July 29, 2009

Mile 10

My third Ironman finish is the books. And even though it was a rough experience at times, it was satisfying overall. So much has happened over the last few weeks that I am going to relfect back in snippets. Love that word: snippet. As defined in the dictionary, snippet is a small collection of fragments.

My first snippet then goes back to the run portion of the race and specifically at Mile 10. This is where I had trouble in 2007 and again in 2009. Why start here? Because I think this is what has defined my IM racing career. Mile 10.

In 2007, I had trouble with the Orange Gatorade Endurance on the bike. It just didn't sit well and ended up tying my stomach in knots. This year, even though they were giving out Lemon-Lime, I decided to use my own nutrition plan. I replaced the Gatorade with Heed. Heed is made by Hammer Nutrition and contains no High Fructose Corn Syrup. I thought this was the answer. Everything seemed to be going well nutrition wise on the bike. At Special Needs, between the two loops, I replaced my three bottles of Heed with some new olcd bottles from my bag. But it was getting hotter and hotter out. There was some humidity in the air and on the 2nd bike loop the wind seemed to kick up a few notches. I was still drinking a little Heed but slowing down. I kept with the water and was getting some Powerbar gel tabs down. I thought I was ok. I thought this would work.

But when I started the run, I was hungry. This alarmed me because you just can't replace everything at once. Plus, how was I going to get 200 calories per hour into my system? They were giving away orange Gatorade at the aid stations and I avoided it. If it had been Lemon-Lime, I would have ventured to try it with a cup of ice and watered down. But no such luck. I started to sip water and take in some grapes instead. They were good and filling the hole in my stomach. I continued this for the first 100 minutes. But then suddenly the next grape I ingested broke the camel's back. This one evil grape launched my stomach into violent dry heaves. I walked, bent over, walked and then stopped. I couldn't control it and I thought I was done. I crouched down with my head over my knee and waited for it to stop. I remember many people prior to the race advising me that if you were suffering from stomach distress to stop and wait. What's 5 or 10 minutes in an Ironman? Let it pass. My plan was to start drinking cola the 2nd loop but I was thinking that I might have to start earlier. Just as that thought entered my mind, someone ran by me and asked if I was ok. Then he shouted, "drink the cola. It settles the stomach, you know." I knew but I appreciated the reminder. The decision was made and it saved me. I started moving again.

Even though my run time was not what I wanted it to be. And even though I walked more than I wanted to, it was still a good race. I picked up my pace the last 4 miles and actually felt good coming in.

Tomorrow, I start at the beginning.

July 21, 2009

Ironman Countdown: 4 Plus Days

Ironman is now about 4 days and 7 hours away. All the little aches and pains are becoming bigger than they really are. I start to focus on them and create more concern than is needed. But the bottom line is that after almost 35 weeks of training, you can't not come to the start of this race with some kind of pain. My knees, feet, back, hip and neck all suffer or have suffered from pain during my pursuit of a third IM finish. And that's what makes finishing the Ironman special. It's your ability to push through these issues and finish.

I am not looking for a finish like I had in 2007 when I walked a lot of the last 13 miles of the run. I had stomach issues and my legs were shutting down. This year I believe I've worked through those issues and come up with a good plan for eating during the bike. For my own mental state, I need to best my time by 90 minutes in order to feel that I accomplished what I set out to do. If I do then I will feel better about taking time off for the next Ironman. Which won't be for at least 4 years!

July 18, 2009

Here Comes Ironman

Ironman is 8 days away and it's taken it's toll. The stress is not over yet.

First, let's start with the family. They love Lake Placid and they love Ironman. What's not to love for them? They get to be in a beautiful place and watch me suffer! Kidding aside, it is a great place to be on race day. The buzz is unbelieveable! And it is exciting for them to watch me. But I feel guilty because this is esentially their summer vacation. So, after this one is over, it's time to take a hiatus from Ironman. Three in the last four years is a lot. The training started the week of Thanksgiving so it's a long haul. Not just on me but the family. They suffer right along with me.

Second, I've had a good training period and I feel I'm ready to post a PR. But this past week I was out on a 20 mile ride when at 12 miles in, I broke a spoke. My trusty mechanic Juan is superb at what he does. He's the one I trust the most with my bike. He repaired the wheel but he couldn't do it the way it should have been done. He had to "Jimmy it". His words of wisdom were try it out before the race and see what happens. But in the meantime "start looking for a new wheel". This did not give me the confidence I was looking for so I started exploring options. Do I buy, rent, or borrow a bike? Luckily, a friend of mine had a set of 650 Bontrager's that are in great shape. So, I'm racing on his wheels next weekend.

Finally, I am still tuning my nutrition that is oh so important during this race. In 2007, bad nutrition on the bike crippled me on the run. I had the dry heaves at mile 10 and ended up walking 90% of the last 13 miles. Not a fun day. I came to the conclusion that Gatorade makes me sick after 2 hours of drinking it. Since I will be on the bike for about 6 1/2 hours, I need to look to replace it. I have one bike ride left to figure this out. The plan is to try Heed by Hammer which contains no sugar. It has a subtle flavor and contains enough calories and electrolytes to get me through. At this stage it's a little risky to try something new but I figured 2 1/2 hours on the bike drinking it exclusively should tell me something. The plan is also to drink more water on the bike something I usually don't do enough of.

Well, the excitement is starting to build. Still a lot to do before we shove off next Thursday. But it's all good. I have to keep the stress down this week or my wife will shoot me before I even make it to the start of the swim.

July 08, 2009

I Can See the Light

The Mental Weeks are over!

The rides on the last 5 Saturday's consisted of 100, 103, Half Ironman (56 and a break!), 99 and 90. All included runs of 30 minutes afterwards. I am in Week 33 with 2 1/2 weeks to go to race day and can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Even though I am in taper there is still a lot of work to be done, don't get me wrong, but the end is near. This Saturday the ride is 60 miles with a 1 hour run to follow and it feels like I'll be on vacation. I might be home before 1 PM!!

It's at this point where you just can't wait for it to be over. Slowly you inch towards race week and the anticipation will start to build.

I also don't want anything stupid to happen. Don't trip and fall over the dog or catch your foot in the car door. No way. Stay safe.

I have a tightness in my left hip/left upper leg area which is of a concern. But at this point, if I had to do the IM today, I could. So, it's all about allowing it to heal and landing in one piece. If I have to skip a workout, I will. if I have to cut it short then I'll do that too.

I haven't felt like writing but will try to get more of the next 2 1/2 weeks written down. This is number 3 for me and I will then be going on IM hiatus. I may have to change the name of this blog!