Results to Date

Monday, May 24, 2010

Back from Orlando

Packed up Katie and the kids and headed down to Orlando for what is billed as "the only Ironman that kids actually want their parents to race in."  My Mom stayed in Tampa for a few extra weeks this year so that she could watch the race as well.
For as good as this trip turned out it sure seemed like it was going to be a lot of trouble in the begining.
To start with, all the crap that happened with Doug the week before prevented me from getting my bike packed up and shipped down to Florida.  By the time I got around to it UPS wanted to charge me $350 to get the bike there in time for the race.  I opted to rent a bike instead and found a good one at Advanced Cycles in Orlando by the airport.
We flew into Florida on Thursday because the original information I received said that I had to pick up my race packet on Friday, and there were no flights that would get me in early enough.  We had to add a day to the trip which consequently makes everything 10% more expensive.  Turned out that later information surfaced that I could have picked my packet up on Saturday during bike drop off.  (More later)
The nice thing is that being there on Friday day we were able to go to Cape Canaveral and watch Atlantis lift off.  This was a neat experience.  I was sure this had disaster written on it.  It took 3 hours to drive 80 miles to the launch.  It would have taken 5 hours except I accidently discovered that our rental car was outfitted with an electronic toll pass so we didn't have to wait in the huge traffic lines.  As we approached the beach it looked like we wouldn't be able to park anywhere near the launch but Katie had heard of a restaurant with a good view.  We found the restaurant, got a great parking spot and a good seat and settled in with a few beers and some good food and waited. 
It looked all morning like the launch was going to get scrubbed because of weather and then because of some ball bearing problem but with T-10 minutes Atlantas was cleared for liftoff. 
After I got back to the condo I went back to the park and picked up my stuff for the race.
Saturday we started the day at The Magic Kingdom but I had to leave early to go rent my bike and drop it off at the race.  I put my aero bars and fast forward seat post on the bike with about 30 minutes left in bike check-in.  As I was tightening the seatpost clamp SNAP! I broke the bolt.  Good thing they had one to sell me at the support tent. 
I have done a few open water swims in my life, but I've never done one without a wetsuit.  Suprise!  The 84 degree water meant that wetsuits would not be permitted.  Since I would be swimming in a different way than I ever had, and I would be racing on a bike that I had never ridden I decided that I better do something new for the run as well.  It was too late to get a new pair of shoes but I did pick up a new pair of laces.  Pretty cool ones too.  You don't have to tie them.
I got home, prepared for the race and got to sleep.
Race morning I got up and woke my Mom up to take me to the park where she could watch the start.  Of course, as badly as they have the Disney property marked we got lost.  The good part is that while finding our way back to the start we discovered a way to park in the Magic Kingdom free.  That saved $14 / day!
The swim start was fun.  The first wave of swimmers took off at 6:20 in the morning but I didn't have to go until 6:51 so I was able to stand with my Mom and watch several of the waves go out first.  I never really saw the start of a race before, it's pretty cool.  Then I had to go.  The water was magnificient.  I was pretty slow and ended up at about 45 minutes.  I didn't stop too much, I think I was just slow.  I did notice that I was pretty thirsty after the swim.
One challenge that I knew I was going to face was that my rental bike only had one water bottle cage and I was using that to hold my nutrician.  I take one water bottle and put in it one scoop of gatorade for every hour that I plan to be on the road.  In this case three scoops and every hour I drink one third of the bottle.  That way I get my hourly required 250 - 350 calories of sugar.  However it also meant that I would have to forget about water for 10 miles of the ride.  I didn't think that would be too big a deal except there wasn't a water station for a little over 20 miles into the ride, so I was going on over 2 hours of racing without any regular water.  It's also a little hard to digest the sugar solution without water.  This was pretty much all that was on my mind for the first hour of the ride.
I got to the first aid station and grabbed two bottles of water.  I held one in my hand and put the other in my jersey pocket.  I gulped down the first bottle and as I reached for the second I felt it slip though the hole in my bike jersey and fall to the ground.  Nice.  It would be another hour before I reached the next aid station but at least I had one bottle in me.
I was averaging a little over 20 miles per hour and one thing I noticed on a big spread out course like that is there is a lot of drafting that goes on.  At IMAZ it's 19 miles out and back 3 loop course.  It's pretty easy for a couple judges on motorcycles to keep the riders honest.  In this ride it's 56 miles of open road.  I think the entire time I saw 2 referees.    I constantly had to be vigilant to not get too close to riders in front.  I don't get too worked up when someone drafts on me. 
At the second aid station I grabbed two water bottles.  I put one between my aero bars and drank one.  When I finished the first I drank the second so at the end of about 3 hours of racing I had consumed 3 bottles of water so I knew I would be OK for the day.  Funny part was that there was an third aid station maybe 5 miles from the finish.  That seemed dumb.  I ended up easily averaging over 20 mph which is pretty much what I was hoping for.
I racked my bike and jumped into my newly laced shoes and headed out on the course.  I couldn't find any sunscreen.  This worried me but I figured, just get the race done.  You feel good now, you'll feel good later.
The course is 4 mile loop with a little before the first loop and little after.  I headed out and fell into a very comfortable 8:30 pace.  The first 1.5 miles are on a tree lined path and that was very cool and comfortable to run on.  Then the course leads on to a grassy park.  It's uneven terrain but I really liked running on it.  The only problem is that the course at that point is completely exposed to the sun, and it was getting warm out.  The grassy path goes out another mile and then comes in for two and then you get back on the shaded concrete.  I knocked out the first 10k in record time for me and I felt really strong.  I was being careful to stay cool with sponges dipped in ice water and I drank and ate at every aid station.  Right about the halfway point in the run another athlete in front of me suddenly swooned and hit the deck!  He'd been overcome by heat stroke.  The medics were on him pretty quick and a lot of other people stopped to help/gawk/rest as well.  It was at that point that I realized how hot it had gotten on the course.  The next two miles in the sun were pretty tough.  I wanted to walk a few times but I just kept my head down and in a few minutes I was on the concrete again.
I know from my run in Cabo and the summers in Phoenix that heat exhaustion can sneak up on you at any time so on that third lap I was taking extra time walking the aid stations.  I took glasses of ice and poured them down my shirt and shorts.  I squeezed the ice cold sponges over my head.  In the final two aid stations some of us just walked up to the kiddie pools full of ice and water and dunked our heads.  Those three long miles in the sun went by quickly and painlessly and in what seemed like no time I was turning towards the finish.  Someone started to go past me in the finish chute but I really felt good so I poured it on.  I had tons of energy left.  I ended up running 10 minute miles (with rest stops).
It was my best race so far relatively speaking.  I finished in the top third of the entire field and the top quarter of my age group.  I said it before the race, and I'll say it now, "It's only a half."  It's a very fun distance.  I will definitely do more of these.  My final time here was 5:50, I wonder if I could break 5 hours?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Goodbye Doug

I'll miss you buddy.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Escape from Alcatraz

 Escape from Alcatraz 2010

It went really well. I was way more nervous than I had ever been for this based on my last experience. While I was way more prepared in the swim than I had ever been I still had my doubts. I hadn't spent as much time in the cold dip pool at the gym as I had intended. On top of that, the race being a month earlier than last year really made me think that the water was going to be below the 55 degrees that I had experienced in the past.

Anyway, I had convinced myself that I was going to go into shock and die as soon as I hit the water. But I think that in the last couple hours before I really came to terms with getting the race done and so I pushed ahead in the line to make sure I wasn't the last person in the boat to get off.

I crossed the timing mat and ran to the edge. I made sure it was clear and jumped. As I left the boat someone surfaced right below me and I landed on their shoulder. Sorry! But I swam forward so as not to be landed on myself. I came up and realized after a few moments that the water really didn't seem that cold at all! I started swimming right away and I felt really good. Now, it was cold, don't get me wrong. I could not, for the life of me breathe out with my face in the water. I could barely blast the air out as my face cleared on the left and I breathed in. I couldn't do more than one stroke without breathing either so it's not that it was easy.

Now, I have to admit that mother nature was cooperating. The ocean was like glass and the sun was out and it was very very pleasant in the water. That said, I got tired after a few hundred yards and breast stroked for a moment buut I quickly got back to swimming. I need to work on my threshold swims. 5 x 400 at level 3. Not far enough to kill you but too far to sprint. It would have been nice to be able to fall into that rythym but instead I did 100 - 200 yd pretty fast bursts with 30 second rests between.

I never got near a kayak. That really made me happy. At no point did anyone ask if I was doing OK. It's a funny race, you are with 2000 people and 30 seconds after being in the water you feel like you are swimming alone. If you bump into someone it's really suprising and then 10 seconds later you never see them again.

I got a bit nervous at the end. I had been sighting well and swimming well but I still felt like I could miss the landing area because of the current. If you miss it all you have to do is swim to shore and then walk a few hundred yards back. No big deal. The one thing you don't want to do is try and fight the current to get back to the original landing site. But it turned out to not matter. I finished a the absolute first place that you could get out of the water. In fact, I stopped my stop watch and of course was very very happy with sub 33 minute time but by the time I walked to the end of the beach and climbed the stairs and crossed the timing mat at around 34:46. Still 10 minutes faster than my best swim and 3 minutes faster even than last time when they reposistioned me.

Anyway I don't remember offhand but I think I was about at 50% of the field in the swim which was really cool. It was freaky getting to the transition area and seeing all the bikes there. The coral is usually empty when I get there.

Bike went OK. I can't believe it but I think I beat my time from 2007 when I was in such great bike shape.

The run was a breeze. I got beat up a bit on the sand ladder and the 1/2 mile or so after it which is uphill as well but I really felt good finishing. I had a nice sprint at the end. In hindsight I could have gone a touch faster I think on the last few miles but it didn't feel like that then.

I could easily pull 5 minutes off that swim and go sub 3:00. I bet I could run :30 less / mile which would get me to 2:56 and I might be able to pull enough off the bike to go to 2:50.  If I could quicken up that first transition I bet I could go 2:45. That would be fast.