Monday, June 28, 2010

Red Bull saved my race!! - IMCDA Race Report

Round two of CDA for me.

Going back this year was full of déjà vu. It was a weird level of déjà vu because as opposed to remembering things, I would be doing something and then memory would spring out on me and attack me. But beforehand I would have no recollection of it. For example, I was trying to determine where to park for the event. It wasn’t until I was driving along that my déjà vu hit and suddenly I was guided into almost exactly the same parking spot I had last year.

Unlike last year, I didn’t show up to the event until the last day to get registered and therefore was a little behind schedule. They recommend staying off your feet the day before the race, but instead I did a small bike on the course, followed by a quick brick and finished with a quick swim on the course. But I guess going in the face of tradition is par for me! The swim on the Saturday (the day before the race) was rough, lots of chop and high winds. It actually brought back a little déjà vu about last years swim. I had blocked out how hard that swim was, but being back in it brought it all back up. I was glad that the weather forecast said the weather would be a lot better this year.

Unlike last year I did not lose my wetsuit the day before the race! Kind of anticlimactic! :)

Race day:

The morning started bright and early for me. I spent most of the night worrying about waking up and because it was just me (the family stayed back home this time); I was doubly worried that I would miss my wake up call. Lo and behold, right when my alarm went off, I get a message from the Mrs. waking me up. What a gal, supporting me from long distance!

Down to the event, I was afraid that I had sabotaged myself as I had frozen my water bottle the night before and when I took it out in the morning I realized it was a solid block of ice (well duh!), but it wasn’t until then that I realized that the ice had frozen over the straw and that the ice was blocking my access to the water. Well normally this wouldn’t be a problem in Las Vegas and the ice would be melted within 30 minutes (if that!), but here in cool and mild CDA, I was afraid that the ice would stay solid forever. What was the adage? Never try something new on race day? Luckily, the morning proved just warm enough to melt the ice and by the time I got on the bike, I was greeted with a bottle full of refreshingly cold water.

After watching the pro’s go off first, our swim started off at 7. I wish I could tell who the pro swimmers where or even who was male vs. female, but in the water everyone looks the same and the announcer wasn’t announcing so I was at a lost.

The cannon boomed and we all dived in (ankle deep beach start as opposed to an in-water start). Immediately, I found some fast feet and held on for dear life. The first buoy flew by and before I knew, it the second buoy was already in sight. But I knew something was off. At every breath I would hear this huge vacuum sound. It was me! I was sucking in a deep gulp of air and loudly too. That is bad, because I never hear myself breathing, I checked in on myself and realized that my heart was racing. I was going way too fast and my body was struggling to maintain the pace. No point in exploding so early in the race so I decided to back off. Unfortunately, it was too late and my body started to freak out. I just couldn’t catch my breath. I kept taking breathes and finally I had to stop and take my face out of the water. Now I am an obstacle treading water with 2000 swimmers behind me trying to go through me. It wasn’t long before I was getting swam over or bumped. Combined with my racing heart and my lack of oxygen, my mind started to freak out. I wanted out and wanted out now. Unfortunately, I had positioned myself near the middle and the only way out was to swim through an ocean of bodies to the nearest kayak. I told myself to relax and keep treading water. “Ignore the people around you and breath!” Slowly, it seemed to work and I started to catch my breath. Several times I tried to swim again and each time I had to stop and breathe again. It seemed like an eternity out there but finally I started to gain control of myself and was able to swim again. In ended up finishing slower than I wanted to but I was just thrilled that I was able to finish at all.

Swim time: 1:44:04

This actually is only about 5 minutes slower than last year’s time. But I had wanted to do something within the 1:20 to 1:30 range so it felt a lot slower to me.

In Transition, I hurried and got changed into my bike clothes. It was harder than I expected as my hands seem to be sluggish and my mind was foggy. I looked around and noticed all the guys were shivering. Some were shaking so hard that there body looked like it was in a seizure. I would find out later that hypothermia was a big issue for people out there. Several people were pulled and I talked to one lady had to lie her way out of medical just to get out of transition before the closed it down. And she had been there for 40 minutes already!

T-1: 7:58 (a minute slower than last year. Not sure what happened, but I am going to blame the cold….sure why not!)

The bike started off awesome. I was flying along. And felt strong. My shoes had been bothering me the last few days and this time I actually brought an extra pair of extra cushy socks just in case, but in the end I didn’t need them at all. They always warn you to take it easy on the first loop otherwise the second loop will kill you. With this in mind and more importantly, I was desperately trying to avoid a repeat of last year’s ride, where my knee mysteriously locked up on me and ruined my race. This time, any time I felt even the slightest twinge of pain or even the hint of what could be a twinge of pain, I backed off and rode easy. Even with all this slacking, I was flying. The race checkpoint says that I was averaging 16.76 mph but I think I was hitting 18 mph avg before the hills. I felt awesome. This is why I am at a lost to figure out what happened on the second loop. Just like last year, my body started to slow way down. Some of the people I had been leapfrogging or had passed a while ago were now passing me. UGH!! This drove me crazy, but I was determined not to get overwhelmed or down about it and just kept trudging along. I knew that I had to keep up on my nutrition but my perpetium was making me retch every time I drank it (which it never does in training). Finally I gave up and poured it out when just the mere though was enough to cause me to gag. I switched to GU’s, which was handed out on the course. By now my stomach was sick feeling. Truth be told my stomach had felt sick since midway through the swim (which I found out was a sign of hypothermia) and it never seemed to get 100% better. Despite my upset stomach, I had been keeping up on the salts but it didn’t seem to help and I would get tremors of cramps in my legs. I was able to resist a full on attack but only by avoiding pushing or pulling with that leg until the tremor had passed. Obviously, this wasn’t helping me get through the bike. Someone suggested drinking more water, which seemed counterintuitive to me; it seemed like more water would diffuse the salts and make me more likely to cramp even more. Finally, I gave up and followed her suggestion. Either it was the water or the timing but the cramps went away. For at least a little while. Eventually they came back and this time, neither the salts nor the water was helping. A light bulb went off in my head, I decided to get a banana at the next aid station. Again, like magic, the cramps disappeared. Unfortunately, my stomach was too soupy and I could only take in a few bananas before I had to call it. I knew from all the past reading of everyone's blogs, that once you have a soupy stomach, sometime the only hope was to stop taking in so much and let your body deal with what it had.

Bike: 7:05:57 almost 35 minutes better than last year, but still not as good as I was hoping for. I was really hoping to negatively split my loops.

In transition, I was completely brain dead. A volunteer came up to me and asked if I needed help. I said no, that I got it, which is what I truly meant. I am glad he ignored me. He dumped out my bag out and handed me the contents. I slipped on my shoes, filled my pockets and heading out. I got three steps and realized that I had my helmet on. I called out to him and handed it off. I got another 10 steps before I realized that my pockets were still full from the bike. I called out to him again and he helped me empty my pockets of the old bike stuff (a pair of socks, spare tubes, GU’s, etc.) This time I got to the exit of the tent and saw that they had Vaseline. I went to go get a quick swipe and realized that I swill had my bike gloves on! Crap, I AGAIN called out to my volunteer (right before he dumped my bag over the wall into the pile of done bags). I rushed over to him and peeled off each glove. I thanked him (for the 10 time) and grabbed some lube. I rushed out to the port-o-potty and finally found a free one, which wasn’t easy as all the girls were sneaking into any open stall before I could get myself in. Finally I stuffed that lube where the sun don’t shine and realized that I was still wearing my bike shorts on top of my run shorts (I double layer)! CRAP!! I ran into the changing tent and called out to my volunteer. He rushed around to the outside and found my bag in the pile of other bags (I can’t imagine how many times I thanked him!). Finally, I was devoid of bike gear and I left transition. Whew!!

T-2 time: 7:34. Over 3 minutes slower than last year. Yeah, well….

The Run: When I started the run, I was terrified that I would repeat last years experience where I was unable to bend my legs and was forced to walk virtually the entire marathon. I was thrilled to find that I was able to run. Not only that but I felt great! I felt like I could actually run and not just run but strategically run. Awesome! First order of business was to slow down. I knew that in order to run long, I had to go slow for the first loop. Despite my warnings, I could not slow down and every time I would look at my watch, I was running too fast. Finally I was forced to walk to slow myself down. Finally the thrill of being off the bike wore off and I was able to maintain an even 11 minute pace. This was still a little faster than I wanted but I was ok with it. I should have been more insistent and forced myself to a 12 min pace. When the climb to the turn around point hit I was still feeling fine, but on the way down the hill, my quads started to lock up on me. Interesting enough, it hurt more walking than running, but I was forced to slow down to a snails pace. By the time I got off the hill and onto level ground, my body was tired from all the stress of keeping the cramp at bay and I started to walk. By the time I hit the halfway point I was up to a 2:42 half marathon. There went my dream of a 5 hour marathon.

Still I had to keep the pace up and knew that in my special needs bag I had a secret weapon:

Red Bull!

At the special needs area, I stopped and took my time. Here I had removed my shoes and changed my socks (the old ones had rocks from the beach in them that I couldn’t tell where there until the run started), I also noticed how the timing chip had gotten rocks in it and was wearing a sore into my ankle. I took it off and stuck into my pocket. I opened the red bull and chugged half of it. I re-started the run and continued to sip on the Red Bull. Within less than a mile, I suddenly started to feel better. It is amazing how a little caffeine can change the whole world for you. I felt energized and my feet didn’t hurt. My mind felt clear and I was no longer in a fog. I felt awesome! I started to run again instead of walk/run. I was able to keep up the speed this time and every time I felt like my energy was declining (actually, before I felt like this), I would grab a coke from the aid station.

I can honestly say that Red Bull and Coke saved my race!

(Endorsement can start anytime….)

Unfortunately, my stomach never seemed to settle and I forgoed any type of nutrition for the last 10 miles (which is probably why I was so hungry after the race was over!)

As I neared the finish line, I was overcome with happiness. Last year, approaching the finish line, I was miserable. I was angry at my knee and this anger spread to everything. I was unhappy with the people around me; I was a grouch to the spectators and worst of all I was a grouch to my family. This time, I felt completely different. I wanted to make it all up and cheered on all my fellow racers. I high-fived all the kids I could find and I thanked all the volunteers. The one thing I could not do was make it up to my family as they were at home almost 1000 miles away. :(

As I was approaching the finish line I ran over the last sensor (I think this may be the ‘official finish line’ even though the real finish line is another 30 yards away). As I ran over it, I realized it did not beep. That is when it dawned on me that I still had the sensor in my pocket! Crap, quickly I ran back and rubbed it on the sensor, still I didn’t hear a beep but the people around me assured me that it was working. As I ran on, Mike Reilly announced my name and called me into be an Ironman!

After the race was over, I was still concerned that the sensor might not have worked. In hindsight I should not have worried, Mike called me in and he probably got it from the sensor, but I forced my volunteer to look up my time. Predictably, the final run time had not shown up yet, this was because I had just finished and it takes a little while to refresh. The volunteer explained this to me, but I was in an Ironman fog and had no clear thoughts. Besides that I realized that my 21 mile checkpoint was not there (because the sensor was in my pocket), now I was afraid that they were going to negate my run completely because I did not check in. Finally, the volunteer took my timing chip over to the supervisor who walked it over to the finish line and manually made it beep. Still my time was not showing up (duh! It takes some time to refresh), but finally the volunteer was able to convince me to go get some food and then check.

After I ate, I went over to the timing computers and made them show me the athlete tracker. By now my finish time was refreshed and I had a final time. Officially I was listed as 14:40, which I think is the time that the supervisor swiped the chip over the sensor. My watch says 14:37 and the Mrs. confirms this. But either way, I don’t care. 14:37 or 14:40 is a PR and I will take it!

Run time: 5:34:36

Overall time: 14:40:09

The aftermath:

I think one of the hardest things is collecting yourself afterwards. The race is done and all you want to do is relax and sleep or eat or anything else but collect your stuff. Typically this is where the family and friends are so helpful because they take care of this while you relax. This time I was on my own and I slowly made my way to the bike pick up area. On the way there I met a pro, Janelle Morrison, who managed to pick up 5th place on only her second year as a pro. Nice work! Last year she picked up 3rd place in IM-Canada too. We actually were able to talk for a while and she is an awesome person. She comes from Canada and told me all about Penticton, where IM Canada is held. She was trying to convince me to come out and that is when I realized that I am tired of Ironman distances.

Now I know that you are supposed to wait at least a week or more before you make any life changing decisions after an Ironman, but I think that I am done for a while. I know that I have Vineman soon (5 weeks). In fact, it is already paid for and I have been working on travel arraignments, but I think that I am going to bail on it. Ironman has taken a lot of time away from my family. I think that perhaps it is time for me to start repaying some of that time. I am not giving up on tri’s but I think that I will stick to the shorter distances. Quicker races and a lot quicker training times.

Of course, they hurt a lot more too! But at this moment, I am already pretty sore!

Thanks for reading, sorry it is so long! Talk to you soon!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dancin in the Flame

Sometimes a song just says it best:

Woke up this morning, a thousand miles from home
Praying for forgiveness
For this aching in my bones
It would be so easy
To find a better way
Oh but I know I'll never change

Cause I love the long shot
And the left out lost causes
Hanging out in the back of the pack with the dark horses
I ride the wrong road just as fast as I can
God knows there's no one else to blame
Sometimes I think I get off on the pain

This race dedicated to those who could not be here but are here in spirit:

The Mrs

Here is to “Dancin' in the flame”!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Go Time!

Another blog post…


I don’t know what you mean ;). In my head, I have posted a least 20 posts. I have told you everything from how little swimming I am doing to how many rest days I am taking. I have let you know about each and every run and the victories and defeats of every bike.

Well….at least in my head I have said all these things. But of course, that doesn’t mean anything. I guess the results are what matters.

Speaking of which, it is just about time for Ironman CDA. It is time to put my money where my mouth is. It's time to see what I am made of. In my head, I am ready; in my head, I am ready to PR; in my head, I am Kona worthy (OK, maybe not even in my head am I Kona worthy!). But like I said, the results are what matters.

In all reality, I am trying to psych myself up. I am trying to energize myself and get excited. It is almost surreal, but I am not nervous. I am relaxed (relatively) and cool as a cucumber. I got my last bike ride in yesterday and I was trying to envision myself biking the hills or racing against the pros. But in my heart it just felt like another training day. CDA feels like another training day. It will be tough and it will be long but it is just another day on the swim, the bike and the run.

And maybe that is exactly what I need. Maybe I should treat it like a training day. Deal with the lows but don’t let them overwhelm me and deal with the highs (please let there be some of those!) but not let my head float away from me.

I am treating this like a long day of training. Pace myself, find my groove and most importantly race my own race.

Wish me luck!

Hopefully I will find some Internet up there. I am staying at my families place and there is no Internet connection there (I know! How weird!!) But hopefully I will find some time to find some wifi somewhere!

If not and this is my last time (sounds ominous), then I wish everyone who is racing this weekend (at CDA, or Devil or Buffalo or France or anywhere) good luck!

My Number is 508 and you can track me at Just be sure to hit refresh a lot as I’ll be blazing so fast that the computers may have a hard time tracking me!! :)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Well done

I am not talking about my training...

I am talking about me!

Its 107* outside and I've been riding my bike for the last 6 hrs. Even starting at 5 am (OK 5:30), it was hot. Now at 12 it is HOT!

Welcome to Vegas baby!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

In need of motivation

Oh whoa is me!!

I am feeling like a primadonna.

I need to get my butt of the couch and go train. according to the plan, I need to get out there and run 18 miles.

Tomorrow I need to bike 6 hrs.

Its hot. I don't want to run in the heat.

Its late. If I run now I wont be done until the evening which will bleed into my bike at 4 am.

I want to go out tonight for 'date night'.

and, and and....

wah wah wah!

Do you feel sympathy for me yet? Or are you as tired of the excuses as I am?