Sunday, June 28, 2009

Impossible is nothing - Ironman CDA Race Report

First off, I want to say thank you everyone for the kind words; the encouragement and the support. I thought of you guys so much out there.

Also a big thank you to the people of CDA. The people on the course, the volunteers and so many spectators who cheered us all on (for hours, in my case).

Not to make this into a Hollywood acceptance speech; but thanks also to Stef and RBR along with her gaggle of friends. Stef rushed to support me when I lost my wetsuit the DAY BEFORE the race! She was quick with a kind word and advice. Once RBR found out, you would have thought I called in the national guard! Within seconds she was calling the expo, contacting the local sport stores. Within minutes she had mobilized her friends and had wetsuits lined up waiting for me. I seriously think that within 30 minutes, she had 2-3 suits waiting in different sizes and shapes!! Somewhere there is a politician looking for her mobilization skills!

Finally, I need to say a HUGE thank you to my wife, who stood outside in the rain and the cold cheering me on. She was there to support me when I was thrilled to be racing and when I was miserable and done racing. She stood out there and took care of a 3 week old child (who stayed properly bundled up and was warm and toasty the whole time). I may be an Ironman, but she has earned new levels of spectathlete-ism. There are not enough words to say how grateful I am.

I've been sitting on this race report for a while. I have had complete novels of this rolling around since the race was midway done, but every version was the epitome of a bitter ungrateful brat! I was in a bad place mentally and the only thing that would have come out of me was bitterness, bile and BS.

You deserve better than that. I deserve better than that! So I've waited. I am not sure I'm ready to be fully mature yet, but I can try. I know that in 2 months from now this will be stupid; in 1 year it'll be meaningless and in 5 years this will all be forgotten. My IM experience will have only been a brief paragraph in the novel of my life. Why stress??

Which brings me to my point. I did it! I am a Ironman!! It may not have been pretty but I got it done. I conquered the impossible! Which what my original goal was. When I started this IM adventure, I sought to prove that anything is possible. If I can do it, then anyone can.

Before, during and now afterwards I would hear people say they could never do an Ironman. They put Ironman at some great high pedestal. Unreachable except by those god like men. Only those blessed with natural talent and washboard abs could do an Ironman.

Well, I am here to tell you that I don't have natural talent and I sure as heck don't have washboard abs, but I got it done. I can't run 8 min/miles, but I got it done. My body may have failed me at mile 50 on the bike, but I got it done.

And I wasn't the only one. We had a huge amount of people do this for the first time, and they got it done.

We have proved that nothing is impossible. My dear friend RBR had trouble out there but and was not allowed to finish, but never once did she think that the distance is too much or that it was impossible to do. She was ready, her body was ready. She can do the distance, she knows that she can do the impossible.

And you can too.

I started the whole experience with a wild roller coaster of emotions that never ended.

As I said before, the day before the race, I lost my suit. I had gone out for a test swim and was letting the suit air dry on the car. I had finished packing my Transition bags and we headed off to drop of the bike/bags at the expo.

It wasn't until we had done all that and driven half the course when I realized that the wetsuit was still drying on the top of the truck. Correction it had been on the top of the truck now however, it was probably somewhere in the middle of the road lost somewhere between home, the expo and here(the middle of nowhere).

After a frantic search retracing all my steps, desperately looking through all my gear and praying that somebody somewhere had it, all to no avail, I gave up. I considered my options: I could go buy another suit ($300+ of money I didn't have); I could go suitless or I could quit.

I decided that I would go suitless. It was only when I had convinced myself that I was manly to go without a suit and not suicidal (And believe me it took a long time to convince myself), it was only after I had convinced myself that I was manly that I got the call that somebody had found my wetsuit! Crap! So much for being the tough guy. I almost cried when I got my suit in my sweaty little hands. Sweet salvation!

The next morning, with wetsuit firmly donned, I greeted the shores of CDA along with 2200 of my closest friends.

I didn't know what to expect, I had heard to avoid the washing machine cycle, you should line up way to left or way to the right, but it looked like I wasn't the only one who had heard that. The middle was virtually empty while everyone flocked to the sides. I placed myself 7 rows back and in the middle and waited for the countdown to begin.

Over the loud speaker I heard Eminem's one chance.

Suddenly the mood all changed for me.

"If you had one chance..."

BOOM! The cannon goes off! No warning, no preparing. We are just off.

The first few hundred yards fly by, however the rest of swim doesn't. I never ran into the fist and kicks that are legendary for these types of mass swims. I definitely found a lot of rubber-clad bodies to bump off of/in to/go around. But I never got punched.

Now the waves on the other hand…They showed no mercy. I was slapped; mashed and slammed seven ways from Sunday! Each time I found a set of feet to follow, the waves would split us in two.

By the time I hit the second loop, I had lost any sense of direction. I gave up looking at the far buoy and simply followed the feet in front of me. Each buoy was the last one for me and by the time I hit the shore, I was as surprised as I was relieved!

Swim: 1:39:08

I am not sure what happened to my mind, but I was completely unprepared for the wetsuit strippers. I walked up to them like I was a zombie (which may not be too far from the truth). Once I finally got my wetsuit off, it was fumbling around in the transition tents. BTW a little bit of helpful advice, the doors to the tents don’t close, so if you plan to strip naked, you may not want to stand in the middle of the doorway. HELLO WORLD!!

T1: 6:58

Once I hit the bike, I was pleased to find how familiar the course was. The time on the computrainer was very helpful. However it doesn’t really help you out with the hills. Not so much the intensity of the hills but rather the psychological effect. Nothing is as depressing as seeing the hills looming in front of you. Seeming endless.

But I behaved. I sat down for most of the hills. This was a two loop adventure and I planned on hammering the second loop.

And I would have…had not my IT band acted up on mile 50 of the first loop.

I was infuriated! My IT had not hurt in more than 6 months. Since that time I had done 10 centuries, 4 marathons, and countless bricks. And never once in those 1000’s of miles did my IT band even hint at hurting.

So there I was, 50 miles out and my race was about to go down the tubes. On the second loop, my bike average started slowly slipping away. By the time the hills hit, I had already lost all the people I had ridden the first loop with. Now it was a whole new bunch of people that I played leap fog with. On all the hills, I would power through, passing people without an issue, but on the downhill, they’d all fly by me. Now, I am not the lightest guy in the field. I carry a certain amount of momentum, so when realized how easy I was getting passed, I knew something was up. It seemed to get worse on the way into town. By then it was all downhill or flat and all my new friends seemed fit to take off and leave me high and dry. My second loop was a full hour slower than my first! OUCH!

Bike: 7:40:26

Back in the transition tent, it was a different environment. Coming in from the swim, it was a mad house. People everywhere, it was nearly impossible to get a volunteer. This time it was totally different. It was a nice quiet environment. The volunteers rushed to everyone who walked through the door. We were taken care of. We were treated like royalty.

T2: 4:43

Once I stepped off the bike, I knew it was over for me. I could no longer bend my right leg. I was now faced with running a marathon with only one leg. Yippee!!

It actually started off not too bad. Even though I was hobbling, I was able to keep a pretty nice pace. Unfortunately that wore off as about the same time the awe of being on the final stage of an Ironman did.

After that it was nothing but tottering at a snails pace for me. As I slowly made my way through the 26 miles of CDA, I realized a few things. One, the people of CDA really do like the Ironman. I am not sure that I would like it in my town. We are a big pain in the butt for people. We close their roads, we pee on their yards, we make lots of noise and stay out really late at night. It must be like having 2200 frat boys hold a convention in your town. But despite all this, the people really like us. They are out in the front yards cheering us on. They hand out bottles of water, and food. They play loud music and scream encouragement to us (of course, they ‘might’ be drunk at that moment). They truly support us.

Second, I realize that at an Ironman you don’t have to be a great runner to be a good marathoner. I was slow, god awfully slow, but I still finished with a lot of people behind me. And had I been able to hold the pace I was planning on, I would have finished ahead of a lot more. Let’s be honest, we triathletes suck at running. But that’s OK. We know it, we are OK with it. And the best thing is, at Ironman, you are accepted and welcomed because of it.

Run: 6:18:37

As I ran down the finisher shoot, I stopped and took a deep breath. The finisher shoot is something magical and it should be taken with joy. Prior to this, in fact almost the entire back end of the second loop, I was in a bad mood. Not just bad but down right wicked. I hated the run, I hated my knees, and I hated pretty much everything. I was unhappy with way the day had unfolded for me and I had crawled deep down into myself to escape the reality. It was a dark day.

But nearing the finish, I realized that this was it, maybe it wasn’t the Ironman that I had wanted, but it was the Ironman I had. All I could do was accept the reality. Was I bitter? Did I want revenge? Was I still pissed off? Hell yeah! But there was nothing now that I could do.

Total time: 15:49:50

All through the race, the officials had said “You only have control of one thing today. Your attitude. Make it the best you can”. And they were right; in the end I had control of nothing. Not the weather, not my body, near the end I didn’t even have control of my emotion (every time I heard/saw ‘happy fathers day’ I would well up with tears and wish I could be home holding my son). In the end, the only thing I had control was my attitude.

One year prior, the though of doing an Ironman seemed impossible. I could never swim that far. I could never bike that far within that limit of time. I could never run a marathon after riding for 112 miles.

I have done the impossible. Impossible is nothing. With time, with training, the human body can do the impossible. I am living proof.

If I can do this, you can too. You can do the impossible. You can make the improbable, probable.

You can do it. All it takes is everything you have. Every inch of you. They’ll be times of hell and times of thrill. But when it is over with, you’ll be a new person.

You’ll be an Ironman!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

There’s something in the water...

Oh wait, it me! Over the last month, it has been all swimming all the time for me. It started out as daily quick trips to the pool, then it evolved into long OWS and now it’s me guiding a group swim!

On Tuesday, SWTrigal and her husband “H” came through Las Vegas (on their way back from being jet setting tri-athletes); they hooked up with me and JohnnyTri for a quick dip in Lake Mead. The quick dip quickly moved into a full bore swim workout and we covered 1.5 mile swim with me guiding the adventure. Now I use 'guiding' as a loose term here. Both SWTriGal and her hubby are natural born fishes in the water so they’d take off and swim to the buoy and then patiently wait for my slow butt to arrive and point out the next destination on our scenic tour.

All in all it was a great workout and I had a fantastic time.

On Sunday, LV Swim group had a meet up at the Lake. This time it was no doubt about it, this was a workout from the start. We gathered the group and mosey down to the water’s edge and I look around and notice that I am the only one not in a wetsuit. Everyone is fully donned in latex and neoprene, except little old me and Kara (but she wasn't there so she doesn't count). Crap! I can already tell you who the slow person is gonna be!

Kara the normal leader of the group is doing leadership things and swimming with a couple new swimmers and as we start out, everyone is looking to me for guidance on where to go and how long. I somehow manage to mumble a few intelligent words that sound vaguely like a half way decent plan that includes a way to keep the slow swimmers (me) and the fast swimmer (everyone else) together. Again, it is me leading from the back as all the fish (everyone but me) zoom to the buoys and then patiently wait for the slower swimmers (me). Which happens to work out great for them, they are all rested and ready to go and I am still coughing up seaweed.

We finish with 1.8 miles that day, but it felt great. It felt fast (for me) and it felt like we all had a good time.

I have now done the OWS swim so many times that it old routine. I know I can swim the distance, now the only question is can I swim it fast? Or at least fast enough to get under the cutoff!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Garmin 305 Sale at Costco

For you out there that have not yet decided to get a Garmin 305, here is one more push for you.

Now through July 5th, Costco is having a sale on the Garmin Forerunner 305. The price is $149.99 and that includes shipping and handling to your house.

It’s a pretty sweet deal…. Which leads me to my next problem…

We know that the new 310xt is coming out. Unfortunately it won’t be coming out in time for CDA, which seriously sucks because it last for 20 hours and that way I could have one watch with me the entire race.

But because it is not going to be here I am going to need two Garmin 305’s. One for the swim/bike and one for the run. It just so happens that I used to have two 305’s. One for me and one for the Mrs. unfortunately, ‘Used’ is the optimal word here. Mine died on the road while I was going through a particular bumpy section of the Solvang Century.

Since then, I have been using the Mrs. Garmin and it’s been going great. However, soon enough she is gonna need it back so she can get on with her exercise plans. That leads me to either get a 305 or wait and get the 310.

My question is: Do I buy the 305 or wait and buy the 310?

Here are a few points to think about:

  • JT has already offered his 305 up for the race, so I have a backup plan there.
  • The 310 is freaking expensive! I know that it’ll go down after a few months.
  • Once the 310 comes out the 305 will suddenly be cheaper, but Costco’s sale puts it at a pretty low price already. If I look at the old Garmin (301), it is still selling for about a $140-150, so it’s a reasonable price.
  • I miss having my own watch. I am constantly afraid of damaging the Mrs. watch, if I break that one, then I have to get TWO watches!
  • I could always go watchless! (Sacrilegious, I know!!)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Reassurance Insurance

I've mentioned it before, but Dave the president of the Las Vegas Tri club, has a computrainer with the CDA course.

I've used it before and while I had a mediocre resulting time for riding the 56, I enjoyed seeing the course and knowing the turns and hills.

I figured I'd go for it again. I am in taper and could use a easy spin and another chance to see the course.

I should have a much easier time right? I mean I've done umpteen centuries since then. I've conquered the King of the mountains series for goodness sake. What can CDA hold compared to that?! Easy peasy right?


Everything started out great. The first part is nice flat/downhill area. I'm flying along feeling fast. Watching my mph average climb, even the first little hill didn't take the wind out of my sails.

I have visions of greatness dancing through my head. Then I hit the first real and my speed crashes to the ground. I feel like I'm stuck in the mud. My speed has dropped to 6mph and its not even a bad hill! I look ahead and realize how long of ride this is gonna be!

After a while I cease even caring. I am just mashing the gears, hoping that this will end soon. I put my head down, close my eyes and just keep pedaling. At one point, I think I have actually fallen asleep! My legs are still moving, but my mind has lost track, I suddenly become aware of where I am (in Dave's garage), and what I am doing. I look up and try to get my bearings. Luckily I am staring at large TV screen and not a large vehicle as it comes barreling down on me!

After that, I realized I needed some distraction. I found solace in watching a DVD of Lance ride his way to his 6 TDF victory.

While it helped pass the time, it wasn't the best at keeping me focused on the course (putting my head down wasn't a big help either). I am not certain I know the course any better than the first time I rode it.

Well that's not entirely true. I now have a crap load of respect for the course. It was tough, it was tiring and I only did one loop!

I had hoped that all my King of the mountain rides would make this a breeze.

Unfortunately, I didn't get the reassurance I was looking for.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Really gonna happen...

Got my race number!

546 baby!

Woohoo!! Guess that means I am in

(Gulp!!!) and its real!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Crack baby!

No, not my baby....


It's definitely official. I am in taper. While I don’t have full taperitis yet, I have WAY too much ENERGY!

In the last few days, I have swept the floors x2 , done the laundry x 7, brushed the dogs x1, cleaned the stove x1.5, and done the dishes x3. Now I am ready to do it all again!

And who knew how intimate you could get with the each item. Usually it’s a quick glance over and move on. But this time, I am delving DEEP into everything.

Did you know that the stove has removable knobs? And under those knobs are removable rubber rings? And that under the oven burners are removable metal pieces that I have no idea what purpose they serve and that under that is…

I am a CRACK baby!

Everything holds my fascination, but only for a minute. Then it’s on to the next bauble of useless fascination.

It may be the summer but for me its spring cleaning (but only for at half of everything).

Months later, I fully expect to find that one side of the window is back to factory clean while the other side is left completely untouched.

I have so much excess energy that I am ready to tackle cooking again, but I am worried we’ll either end up with food to feed an army or we’ll have uncooked twice-baked potatoes.

How long until the race??!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Oh the places you'll go...

...and the people you'll see!

I am officially on taper now, have been since the a few days before Kian was born.

Now that I finally have some time, I plan on getting back into the blog world again. I have been called out for falling off the face of the earth.

And it's true. I disappeared.

Not that I wasn't training. Not that I didn't have anything to say. Rather I think it’s because I had too much to say.

I have wanted to post ever since I did the Breathless Agony ride. I have visions of songs and's gonna be a musical!

Unfortunately, I am not a very good producer. So the idea has sat there. Sat there and grown stale. "Pretty and unused" "rotting on the vine" so on and so...

And while it sits there and spoils, it's blocking up the rest of the post. I have a whole plethora of ideas that are slowly curdling like spoilt milk.

So...I have decided to just start tossing my ideas out there. Willy-nilly!!

It may come out discombobulated (like this post) but at least they'll be out there.


Look for more wild tails of mirth and folly (or sweat and tears).

I'll also be catching up on everyone's blog too. Everyone is out there doing great rides, and finding new PR's.

Right now I am so far behind, I'll never die.