Saturday, December 17, 2011

2012 Race Schedule

I have finally figured out a preliminary race schedule for 2012.  In 2011 I only did three races including Ironman Wisconsin.  The plan this year is to put more races on the docket thus forcing me to get in shape earlier in the year to avoid embarrassment.  Embarrassment is a big motivator and so is whopping up on specific individuals. (You know who you are)

The first couple races of the year will be in January and February.  The Chilly Cheek Duathlon series takes place rain, snow or shine and encompasses four miles of running and ten miles of biking.  It is early in the season and hopefully will provide me a little incentive to work on my running.  I will also need to be ready to ride either my mountain bike or road bike depending on conditions.  I am hoping to convince a few people to join me in these races.

In April I have scheduled the Platte River Half Marathon.  I have never run a stand alone half marathon so this should be a good indicator of my early season fitness.  I have also heard from a number of people that this is a great race.

On May 5 is the Spartan Race.  This is a five mile obstacle course at Fort Carson military base.  This race concerns me a little since it is going to require some strength and agility.  I plan on hitting some weights and doing some crossfit the first few months of the year to hopefully get me ready for the race. I do not want to muscle up but would love to improve my upper body strength. I am also trying to get a team from my work or friends together to compete.  The Barking Dog Duathlon is a 5k/30k/5k race which I did last year and is scheduled for May 12. I really enjoyed the race because of the friendly atmosphere.  I came in 3rd place in the Clydesdale division of the sprint last year. Hopefully I will not qualify for that division in 2012.  I believe this will also be my wife's first race of the season.

June 9 is the first major race of the year with Kansas 70.3.  The plan is for a group of us to do this race.  It will be fun racing and beating the people I train with. (Yes are my motivator)  June 24 is Xterra Curt Gowdy in Wyoming.  The Xterra is an off road race which includes mountain biking and trail running.  I was very hesitant to put this race on the schedule because Kansas is only two weeks prior.  I am going to have to get some mountain bike riding in early in the season which will take away from my road bike.  I actually think this will be beneficial.  I tend to get my heart rate in the red zone a lot easier mountain biking then on my road bike.  I plan on using the mountain bike training to get my "intervals" in. My friend Christy has also promised to help me get ready for this race since she will also be competing.

In July my race will be either Racine 70.3 on July 15 or the Door County Half-Ironman on July 22.  Racine is my hometown and I did the race last year and loved it.  It would be great to race the course again and gauge my fitness.  However, I have heard great things about Door County and it would be nice to visit that part of Wisconsin.  I guess this decision will be based upon which week works best for vacation.

The last race I have scheduled is September 9, 2012..Ironman Wisconsin.  I have a goal time in mind for this year. I will share that at a later date.  There are numerous other races in Colorado this year and I may do a sprint or olympic in early August or even the end of July.  There is another Xterra Race near my home on August 4, 2012, Xterra Indian Peaks.  Also, the new HITS race series is in Colorado the end of July which includes all distances of races. 

Overall I think my race schedule is solid. I am really looking forward to racing with people I know and sharing the experience.  I am also looking forward to scheduling my wife's races this year. She has taken an interest in the sport and plans on doing a few sprints and possibly an olympic this year.  I am also looking forward to getting some miles on my mountain bike. I totally neglected it last year.  If there are any other races that you recommend or have input on the races I have scheduled please let me know.  Hope everyone's Christmas season is going well.

Also make sure that you tell all your friends and family how much you care about them at this time of the season as well as all year long.  As I write this my mother is again in ICU in Wisconsin fighting the complications of her cancer and the stroke she had 20 years ago.  I will be leaving for Wisconsin shortly to be with her and the rest of my family to celebrate Christmas.  Remember the true reason this season is great and that the memories you make and share with loved ones are far more precious and everlasting then any gifts.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

We're Smelling Roses.

In other non-triathlon related news..The Big Ten champion University of Wisconsin Badgers will be taking on the Oregon Ducks in the Rose Bowl this year.  As you all know my family and I are huge Badger's fans.  And my brother Ben was able to score us tickets for the game.
Wife smiling after she finds out I am leaving for three days
My wife was especially happy to hear that I would be leaving for a few days. (For some reason my wife is always happy when I leave..she says it's because she misses me so much when I am gone that she loves me that much more when I return.  I don't really buy this..I think it has more to do with the house staying clean).
This will be my second trip to see the Badgers in the Rose Bowl.  My first trip was in 2000 when Ron Dayne ran over the Stanford defense for an ultimate Bucky victory.  For those of you who do not know the long standing traditions of Wisconsin just ask one of the true believers to Teach you how to Bucky.

This game will take on even more my brother Ben..because he is a graduate of UW and worked in the ticket office...and then he went to work for the University of Oregon Athletic Department.  Although no longer there, he still has about a quarter of his closet filled with green and yellow..all of which will still be in his closet as we head to Pasadena.

How does this relate to triathlon?  Well for one I have even more incentive to drop weight so me and the posse can show up the California natives on the beach volleyball courts.  Of course I have no idea where I will be getting a tan beforehand. really does have nothing to do with triathlon..but its all about Bucky.
Best Mascot Ever

 So feel free to join Sconnie Nation and root for the Badgers on January 2nd 2012.

We're Smelling Roses and remember..Quack is Whack!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

On my Christmas List for this year.

Since it is Christmas time..and my tri bag was stolen with half my equipment...I have been shopping for new gear.  Here is a quick list of what I am asking for in case anyone feels generous or you can use the list for triathletes you are shopping for.  Just click on the item name for a link to a description.

1.  The Nathan Endurance Hydration Pack.
These vests sit a lot higher on my back then the camelbaks do.  I have not actually found the endurance to try on but have found a couple of similar Nathan vests.  I am thinking this may be the answer to my hydration issues since the fuel belt just does not carry enough fluid.  There is even room on the vest for an additional water bottle.  Here is a complete Review.

2.  Sony Cybershot DSC-TX10
I actually just picked this camera up on Amazon for an amazing Black Friday price to replace my Canon that was stolen.  I was looking for a waterproof, shock proof, compact camera and the Sony fits the bill.  Further I only payed $160.00 for it..about 60% of the normal price..and insurance is covering it..So far the camera works great and I will start posting pictures in the near future.  I have not had a chance to check out the waterproof capabilities as of yet.

3. Timex 100 lap watch 
This is the watch that was stolen.  I really like it for swimming and being able to record my splits.  I was looking at upgrading to the Timex 150 lap with tap technology but was disappointed with a lot of reviews that said the watch would randomly record lap splits while swimming.  Obviously the watch would be useless then.

4. Swimp3 Player 
This is awesome...I can listen to my music while I swim. Better yet there are no ear plugs..the unit fits on your goggles and sits on your cheek bones.  Once you are swimming the music sounds great.

5.Garmin 910XT  The item every triathlete wants.  Of course it is supposedly available right now but every place on the planet has them backordered until late January or February.
I loved my Garmin 305 and 310xt (which was also stolen) but this is the creme de la creme...It has all the functionality of the previous garmins and has also made significant upgrades in its ability to record information both during an open water swim and indoors.  The price is hefty at $449 for the unit with a heart rate monitor..but it is only $50 more than the 310xt.  The extra $50.00 is well worth the added functions.  I am guessing the 310 will be dropping in price soon.

6.   Newton Running Shoes
I love my Newtons..however they are very pricey..especially if bought from the Newton Store in Boulder.  However, they did transform me from a heel strike runner into a midfoot runner.  That does not sound like much but before the Newtons I could only run a mile or two without my knees hurting.  Once I changed my form with the assistance of the Newtons I have no knee pain at all and have done 2- 3 hour runs with little or no pain.  I have tried to switch back to other brands with mixed success and am therefore going back to the Newtons for next season.

7.  TYR Transition Bag
This is a great bag for the gym or for race day.  It is a back pack and contains a wet bag inside as well as space on the bottom for your wetsuit..and the price does not break the bank.  I would suggest this bag to anyone looking for a relatively inexpensive triathlon bag..about $50.00 online.

8. Scattante multi lens sunglasses

I LOVE these sungalsses..they are a multi-lens system and they fit my fat head.  They are sold by Performance Bike shop either in their stores or online. There is also a woman's model for smaller faces that can be seen on the website. And they are always on sale. Right now they are on sale for 29.99.  I use them for everything..running, cycling..just looking cool.

Those are a few ideas that I have for a triathlete for Christmas.  I am going out soon to try an replace some of the items. Hope everyone is having a great Holiday Season!.

Monday, November 28, 2011

How much fitness can you lose?

The answer is..a lot!  I have not worked out consistently since my race in September.  I have done a few bike rides..a swim or two and a MAF test..but that is about it.  Today I started the training for reals...and what a rude awakening.  I ran on the treadmill for 30 minutes and only covered 2 miles..ouch. I also got on the scale today and weighed in at 219.4.  ouch again. The good news is that I stuck pretty much to the diet guidelines today.  No breads, pastas, rice, fried foods or baked goods.  I do admit that I cheated with breakfast. I got out of the house late and instead of the eggs I planned on I had to drink a myoplex shake and had a greek yogurt.  Otherwise it was a salad with turkey and cheese for lunch and chili with 93% lean hamburger and vegetables for dinner.  I definitely filled myself up on the Chili.  The rest of the week will be slow runs and then a bike ride on Saturday. Just trying to get used to working out everyday again.

Still waiting on insurance to call me as to my lost items.  It was hard to run today without my mp3 player and garmin.  I would also like to get back into a pair of Newtons.  Tomorrow will be two weeks since the break in..not the fastest turn around.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Planning time

Thanksgiving is over and so is the eating and sitting around.  Since I raced Wisconsin I have watched my friends compete and kill the courses at Kona, Florida, Arizona (Yeah Christy) and today again at Cozumel (Sonja at Actually Sonja just finished at a crazy fast 10:00:33 and second in her age group..guess she will be going back to Kona again!  I have also been reviewing potential races for next year, talking to my friends about their plans and trying to get a grasp on how 2012 will shape up.

I have been putting off the formal training schedule but need to get back at it.  I spoke with Doreen and she does not plan on an Ironman next year but to focus on speed and shorter courses.When I say short I mean 70.3s.  Her objective is to qualify for the long course nationals..something I am sure that she can do. I am excited for her but sad for me since that means my really long rides and runs this summer will be without Doreen simply because she does not need to put the mileage in.  I am hoping I can find another training partner in those summer months that plans on doing Ironman Louisville or even Florida so that their training mirrors mine.

I also downloaded The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing by Phillip Maffetone in order to help plan my season.  The book is very interesting.  Maffetone's theory regarding training is to do almost all the aerobic base training at a very specific heart rate.  In general that heart rate is 180 - your age.  There are some other factors which will either add or subtract from the heart rate such as fitness level, years of training, injuries in the past etc..but the 180- age is the starting point.  My heart rate is 135.  The vast majority of my runs and bikes would be done at the 135 with very few if any aerobic sessions.  Maffetone believes that training at this heartrate, which is below anaerobic, will build a huge aerobic base which will make you faster.  In fact, he recommends doing MAF testing quite frequently to judge the improvements.  A sample MAF test would require a person to run 3 miles at exactly their specified heart rate.  You would keep track of the mile times and the overall time.  In theory, every time you take the test you should be running the 3 miles faster at exactly the same heart rate.  If that does not happen the athlete should look at what issues are keeping them from improving..i.e. over training, injury, sickness..etc.  I am still putting my schedule together but I think I am going to try his theory for a month or two and see how it goes.  I am going to stray a bit by putting strength exercises in a couple times a week since I really did feel weak toward the end of last season.  Maffetone frowns on anaerobic exercising during the base period including strength training.

The book is big and contains a lot of information.  There is also a lot on nutrition as well as training.  One thing that Maffetone suggests is taking a two week test in which you cut almost all carbs from your diet as well as processed foods and sugars.  This is not a lifestyle change but a chance for you to see how your body reacts to cutting the carbs out of the diet.  He believes that a lot of people will see dramatic weight loss in those two weeks as well as improvement in their MAF test and generally feel better.  I am going to take this test starting Monday November 28 along with a few other people I know.  I will follow the diet and let everyone know how it goes.

One last thing, Our volleyball team won the City Championship!! A shout out to my friends and teammates, Kristine, Angie, Melissa, George and Matt. We lost one game all season and swept the tourney..although there were a couple of very tough matches.
 Yes..we really are that gangsta.  I wish I had a better picture but unfortunately about an hour later as we celebrated our victory at a local drinking establishment, our car was broken into with the culprits taking Kristine's volleyball bag which contained our shoes, balls, camera and my wedding ring..along with my tri bag which contained my garmin, mp3 player etc..  I am still waiting for the insurance company to get back to me on how they are going to handle the loss.  We will see if I give them a good or bad review.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Off Seaon - Plan or no Plan

So the off season is here. How do I know this?  I am eating like it is the football and holiday season.  As of today I am up to 219.5. Ugh. I have also officially done nothing this past week.  Unfortunately after my last race real life, work, the holidays, friends, stress, etc.. worked their way back into my life. Some of this is good and some bad.  The trick now is to find a balance.  I have obviously been eating to make up for the food I was not eating during training.  I now find myself in a spot where I need to take off weight which was already gone.  Not a big deal since I know I can do it.  The real challenge I face is finding a balance between everything in my life.  I need to treat training/exercise as a meeting that has to be scheduled and adhered to.  With the shorter days and cooler temps it is all too easy to push off my plans until the next day.  This week I plan on just doing about 45 minutes of cardio everyday.  I also am going to read up on a few eating plans and let you know what I think about them and if they would work for me. I am interested in the engine 2 diet which is mostly vegan based and the paleo diet which is a favorite among crossfitters.  I have already started reading Training Weight by Matt Fitzgerald which simply confirms that guys my size should not be doing endurance Lastly I will be putting together a structured plan for the next 6 - 8 weeks and also try to plan some races for the year.  So stay tuned. Hopefully there will be a plan. Of course I also caught a cold this weekend so we will see how my whining affects my plan.

I also want to give a shout out to my friend and training partner Doreen who finished Ironman Florida in 13:16:18 beating her goal of 13:30 and setting a personal PR.  Awesome job..just remember you could not have done it without me! 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Have You Seen My was here somewhere..probably with my keys.

As the end of October approaches I am already firmly in the grips of the winter doldrums.  I really thought a short rest from training would do me good and I would be in the mood to hit it like never before. Unfortunately the only thing I have been hitting like never before is the all you can eat buffets.  Really..actually ate at the Chinese Super Buffet.  I had no idea the Chinese ate so many fried foods.  Fried and breaded sweet potatoes, donuts, chicken mcnuggets.  I am surprised that China does not have more of an obesity problem.  I have also gone out the last few weekends to enjoy the Brewers, Badgers and Packers with my rowdy friends that I have not hung out with for six months. (A shout out to my boys Jeff and Scott and badger girls Kelley (and whatever your boyfriend's name was) and Jenn..and of course my designated driver, wingman and caretaker Kristine). Needless to say this involved partaking in alcohol and fried foods. (mmm. cheese curds)   In the last six months before my Ironman race I ate pretty good and did not drink at all.  The night of the Badger/Nebraska game I drank six months of fruity drinks.  I decided to do the rainbow by doing one drink of every color.. long island iced tea (brown) Blue Hawaiin (blue) Some sort of red fruity drink(red), screw driver(orange), grasshopper(green) girl scout cookie (green again), purple people eater (purple), axe murderer (red again)  all topped of with an Irish Car Bomb. Needless to say I felt less than stellar..but the Badgers did win.  I also apparently came down with a case of food poisoning that night and next day since I just really did not feel well.. of course sleeping on a tile floor curled up in a ball did not help either. So the fruity drinks are out of the system now..both figuratively and literally and I will not need to have one of those again for a year.  Some how I have also put on weight.  As of today I am up 11 lbs from 9-11-11. A magnificent 215 on the scale.

Worse yet the motivation to work out has just not been there.  I think partly because the triathlon season is over and I have no goal staring me in the face.  Another is that the group rides and workouts are also pretty much over for the season.  I think I am much more of a team sport guy then an individual sport enthusiast.  This may be part of my midwestern upbringing where team sports are popular and hanging out after the game is even more popular.  I started playing volleyball again which is fun..and much less of a strain on my knees since losing my weight.  I am also contemplating joining a soccer league ( a sport I have never played before) just because of the camaraderie.  Triathlon is an individual sport for the most part but I always try to have a training partner or partners. For me being part of a team is huge.  When I mountain biked in the midwest it was always a group Colorado you see a lot of solo mountain bikers. I have half-joked with my coach that we need to get team kits so we can be identified as a unit. ( Honey Badgers  ..Because Honey Badgers don't care...Honey Badgers are Bad Ass.)  For some reason it is much more fun and satisfying to me to accomplish something as a team rather than an individual.

I have also soured on the sport of triathlon a bit.  I have met a lot of great people while doing triathlons..but I have also met a lot of complete d-bags.  I think for some reason the individual sports seem to attract a larger number of anti-social, self centered, arrogant individuals that do not mesh well with my personality.  And in my opinion, the proportion of these d-bags increases as their eliteness increases (or more likely their perceived eliteness).  Yes I know that this is a gross generalization and some of the elite athletes I have met are some of the most wonderful people I know..but I am just going off my experience.

Unfortunately I meet the guy in the video above on a lot of my rides and it really ticks me off and adds to my "experience" database.

So I am done whining now.  I need to get back on the horse. My run fitness has nose-dived, I think I remember how to swim and unbelievably my bike fitness still seems to be ok.  My plan of attack for the next month is to set my race goals, get back on track nutritionally and schedule my workouts as I would meetings so I don't miss any more.

I was able to have a great ride last weekend with my coach Sonja (one of the truly wonderful elite athletes that I have met) and a few of the ponies in her stable.  The ride made me remember how much I actually do like the sport and the majority of the people in it that I have met.  I will also be reading the blogs of my online buddies to help me keep motivated. (You can too..they are listed on the side bar).  Hope everyone is well and keeps moving forward.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Year In Review

Ok..not quite a year but close enough.  I was disappointed not finishing IMMOO 2011 and thus have decided to look at the bright side of things. In 2010 I finished a sprint triathlon in Maple Grove Minnesota. The Dare to Tri race is in Maple Grove (obviously) and 2010 was the inaugural race. It was fantastic.  There is a sprint and olympic distance and in 2011 they partnered with Tristar 111 and added a completely different race distance. A 1 km swim, 100 km bike and 10k run. Macca raced the event this year and said he would be back in 2012.  I really want to do this race but it is only 3 weeks out from Ironman Wisconsin. If you ever get the chance to sign up for the race you should do so. It is a blast and the little engraving your finishing medal onsite with your time are awesome.

Anyway I did the race in August 2010 and looked back at how I progressed in 13 months.  At Maple Grove I had to swim a little over 500 yards.  I averaged 2:30 per 100 yards and at IMMOO I averaged under 2:00 per 100 over 2.4 miles (4100 yards).  I averaged a little over 15 miles an hour on the bike for the sprint IMMOO with quite a bit more elevation gain I averaged 14.5 mph over 112 miles.  Not the greatest speed but I was pleased.  At Racine I averaged over 16 mph over 56 miles.  Lastly, I walked/ran the 3 miles in the sprint and averaged a little under 12:00 minute miles.  During training for IMMOO I was running 12 -13 minute miles over 13 miles.  I think my fitness improved significantly.  One huge improvement was in my quad, hamstring and hip strength from the training. I have been dealing with issues related to my knee surgery in 1998 since..well 1998.  My right leg has been significantly weaker than the left ever since the surgery..often times causing me to run in circles. I saw my PT Joy last week and she said the strength I had gained was incredible and it is by far the best she has seen my leg in the three years she has known me.  By the way if anyone in the Denver area needs the best Physical Therapist around for athletes Joy is the one to see at University of Colorado Sports Medicine.  She knows her stuff, is an athletic trainer also and can deal with head cases (she has dealt with me for a number of years).  Also I think the photos below show that I lost a little bit of weight. (Amazingly enough I am wearing the same tri shorts in each picture - spandex is truly a miracle fabric)

the original fat boy (233)
new and improved 203 (down from 242)

I have learned quite a bit in the last year. From learning how to swim efficiently with total immersion, train while still having a family life from my coach Suzanne at Steel City Endurance, to how to pee on the bike.  Unfortunately I was never able to practice this in real life since I was never hydrated enough to actually need to go..but I did get advice from some of the best.   I also met a number of wonderful people..from those I shared some training time with (Doreen, Kelli 1, Kelli 2, Angela), to fellow racers in Racine like Doug from Marshfield, and elite triathletes..Go Sonja!!! - who as I write this is only a few hours removed from finishing the Ironman World Championship in Kona in 10:08:44. 

Lastly it has been great getting into a healthy lifestyle and sharing the sport with my family and friends. My sister-in-law Adrianne finished her second tri at Maple Grove this year PRing..and my wife Kristine is now firmly into the lifestyle and will probably be beating my butt in the near future. My soon to turn 4 year old daughter now gets off her bike and then wants to run after she goes through transition.  She also says "on your left" when she passes people on the walking path.  Finishing IMMOO 2012 is the goal for this next year but like this year I think the journey with my family and friends will be the real reward.

Friday, September 16, 2011

IMMOO 2011

Well September 11, 2011 came a lot quicker than I thought it would. After my HIM at Racine I knew I had to work on hydration and running.  My coach Suzanne and I started working on hydration strategies and my training partner Doreen (pictured in the wetsuit) made sure I didn't miss a workout.  With six weeks to Ironman Wisconsin I knew I had a lot of work to do.  My wife Kristine (In the first picture) made sure my weekends were free to train the long hours for the rides and bricks and even went on a couple of work outs with me. Kristine and my daughter Laila were my biggest cheerleaders before and during the race. I also had a bunch of other friends who were willing to train with me to help me get my miles in.    One thing that was evident was that I was getting fitter since my pants were getting looser and I was spending more time admiring myself in the mirror.

We arrived in Madison on September ninth and I registered and weighed in.  Everything for Ironman Wisconsin is based out of Monona Terrace which is kind of cool. The terrace is right on Lake Monona and a few blocks from the capitol. Pictured below is the parking structure helix that we had to run up after the swim to get to the transition area and then to the bikes.

My official Ironman weight was 203.9. I had hoped to be 199 by the race but I had lost 40 lbs since I was happy.  At registration I also noticed a few guys my size or a little bit bigger. However the vast majority of the athletes were definitely built for endurance with little body fat and most of the guys did not need to have a scale that went over 170 pounds. 

On Saturday we met up with my brother Ben and his wife Adrianne.  Ben was under some notion that I could attend a Badger game the day before Ironman.  After some deliberation I declined.  Instead we met up for a little pre game fun and then my wife and I went back to Monona Terrace to rack my bike and drop off my gear bags which we had spent two hours packing and repacking. I don't know how many times I rechecked my bike shoes, helmet, salt pills etc.

As you can see by the pictures the bags are dropped off in different rooms and sorted by athlete numbers. The picture is of the room that we triathletes refer to as T1 or the first transition. (Ha.."we triathletes" )The gear bag contains everything I needed to go from the swim to the bike. In most triathlons the gear is left by your bike and there are no separate rooms or changing areas.. However due to the number of athletes and length of the race the bikes are racked separate from the gear bags. My T1 gear bag included my bike shoes, socks, sunglasses, helmet, etc.  What is nice about Ironman is that once you grab your bag and move into the changing area there are rows of chairs to sit down on and numerous volunteers to help you go through your bag, put sunscreen on or whatever and put your stuff away as you scurry out the door..the bad thing is seeing other guys nude rubbing nut butter on their privates.  Triathletes are not a bashful people.

After racking the bike Kristine and I headed back to our hotel room at the Union South and went to dinner with Ben and Adrianne. We went to the Great Dane..which if you go to the beginning of this blog you can see me eating all manner of deep fried food and drooling over what I couldn't stuff down.  The day before Ironman I was drinking water and eating mashed potatoes.  In fact the three days before the race I was petrified that I was going to make the wrong decisions on what to eat and stayed to the basics of lean protein and chicken breast with plenty of water. I actually declined cheese curds and bacon.

I got to bed about 10 p.m. and was up at 4:30.  Kristine and I were down at Monona Terrace by 5:20 along with thousands of other people.  I filled my water bottles and made sure my tires were at 120 psi.  I was one of the few that did not have a true triathlon bike. Instead I had my road bike with aero bars on it.  During the ride I was glad that I had my bike with its front triple chain ring. We then wandered around checking out the spectators and other athletes as well as getting my body markings done.

The area became very crowded as gun time approached. At 6:30 the bike transition area was closed and we had to put on our wetsuits and move down the helix and into the water.  The helix was crowded but there was about 6 feet of space for all of the athletes to run up once they exited the water.  I was warned about the swim for was likened to being in a washing machine.  The closer you were to the start line and the buoys the worse it was.  I put on my wetsuit and entered the water with about 20 minutes before the start. I spoke with some of the athletes and decided..what the heck..I am going to the start line by the buoys and will start a little behind. I figured the front runners would get ahead and I would get into a groove.  I was surprised to see that there were a large number of athletes that were starting near the shore almost 200 yards from the buoy. Apparently they thought it best to stay out of the melee and catch up with the buoys toward the first turn 800 meters away.  Seemed like a lot of extra swimming to me.  But so did the fact that I had to tread water for 20 minutes before the gun started the race.  However, with the wetsuit on treading water did not take up much if any energy at all.

I was talking to a couple of other athletes in the water when the gun went off and everyone just started moving forward.  I can honestly say I have never been so beat up in a swim.  There are 3000 people headed for the same red buoy 800 meters away and no one wants to give up space.  I was jostled, run over, kicked and all in all just mugged.  Your vision in the water is pretty much limited to two feet in front of you and about three feet to each side..usually there was a pair of feet in front and a body to each side with someone either touching your feet or going over your back.  I have always tried to go around swimmers but that was impossible.  To move to the left or right meant I was going to run into someone else.  Thus the best course of action was to try and go over the swimmer in front..hopefully just an arm and not their body.  When we got to the first turn it was actually worse. Some of the faster swimmers who had started 200 meters to the side converged at the same time.  Everyone pretty much had to stop swimming and kind of just push themselves through the mass of humanity to get around the buoy.  What added to the surreal spectacle is that everyone was mooing.  Apparently it is custom to moo when you get around the first turn at IM Wisconsin.  So of course I joined in.  Once around the first turn I realized that my theory about the swimmers spreading out was wrong.  The muggings got a little less frequent but for the better part of both loops there was always someone if not two people within a foot or two of you.  Apparently one woman had her wrist broken in the first 100 meters of the race by someone kicking her.  I was very glad to get to the last turn and head back to shore. I figured with all of the people, not being able to extend my stroke and just the sheer madness my time would be about 1:45.  I was incredibly surprised to see it was actually 1:22.  That was about 1:58 per 100 yards.  The best I had done in the pool for training was 1:59 per 100 yards and that was for a 500 yard time trial..not for 2.4 miles.

Once I was out of the water I had the wetsuit strippers take off my suit and I was running with the rest of the athletes up the ramp and the helix and to the transition area.  I even heard my name being called as I exited the about cool!  I thought running up the helix would be exhausting..but with the hundreds of people yelling at you and cheering, you do not realize you are actually jogging at a good clip.  I got to T1..changed into my biking gear and ran out..grabbed my bike and was soon riding down the other helix to start my 112 mile ride.  Unfortunately within the first 2 miles we all had to slow down for the med crew to put a biker in an ambulance. Apparently they had come down the bike path too fast and ended up hitting the side of an underpass.

Just as an aside - if you remember my swim video on this blog from the beginning of the year (If you don't remember then you need to is horrific) I was averaging about 2:30 per 100 yards and looking very bad doing it.  Suzanne and her coaching helped me cut 30 seconds off each 100 time. That is HUGE.  I am also going to confess that I was not a convert to the total immersion swim style or doing the drills Suzanne had scheduled for each swim practice..but I started doing them and again the difference is striking.   

The bike course at IMMOO is 112 miles and is an out and back with two loops.  The "stick" is a fairly fast ride out to Verona where the loop starts.

As you can see the course is anything but flat.  There are three "big"hills that everyone talks about starting at Mt. Horeb with an additional two on the back side of the course.  Compared to Colorado the three hills really are not anything spectacular.  You just need to gear down and go slow.  The longest one is probably just a little over half a mile in length.  I actually enjoyed this part of the course since there were some downhills where I could actually use my body mass to my advantage and get speeds of 35 to 40 miles per hour. The front part of the course is what killed me.  It is just constant rollers where your legs never get a chance to rest and you never get in a groove.  A lot of people rate the IM Wisconsin bike course in the top 2 hardest courses out of all Ironmen races because of this.  You are constantly shifting gears and trying to keep your cadence up.

The ride on the "stick" was pretty non-eventful.  I kept a good cadence up, actually passed people and started hydrating by taking some salt pills immediately and chugging some powerbar performance for fluids and calories.  However I noticed that there was not a cloud in the sky and that it was getting hot.  I knew it would be a long day on the bike course.

At mile 30 on the course I started talking to myself..what the heck am I doing..I am less then a third of the way through the bike and was dying.  I was hot and the legs were tired.  At mile 45 I had gone through the first hill and done some downhills and was feeling great.  I even saw my iron sherpas on the side of the road cheering for me.  My wife and daughter, brother, a couple of sister in laws and their kids as well as my father and mother in law were on the side of the course in a few different places.  This was a real pick me up.  It is unreal how many conversations one has with them self on a 112 mile bike ride.

During the course of the bike I had to stop and fix my back water bottle holders which had slipped down to the tire.  I also dropped a chain on one of the climbs and was yet again stung by some unknown bug..this time on the inside of my thigh.  I thought I was going to crash the bike when it happened it hurt so bad.  The one thing I did not do was stop at a porta potty..which did not bode well since I was picking up 2 to 3 bottles of fluid at each rest stop.

When I got to the special needs stop at about 56 miles I was famished. I opened my was peanut butter jelly time.  I took two bites and couldn't even chew. I tried chips, licorice, a performance bar all with the same reaction. The guy next to me gave me some gummy bears and fig newtons with the same reaction.  I was hungry but couldn't eat.

The second loop was much harder than the first.  The riders had thinned out and it was HOT.  The crowds were still as awesome as the first loop.  On the hills people were running next to you with megaphones and yelling your name.  There were girls in hula costumes..guys in hula costumes..girls in bikinis..guys in bikinis..the best sign I saw was strung overhead on one of the hills that said..."Worst Parade EVER!"  I cracked up both times I went past it.  It was wonderful having other athletes and people calling out your name. And I finally took pride in everyone calling me "big guy".  Way to go Big Guy!!  OK..I am not that big anymore..but for this race I was.  Although there were a few much larger guys than me..that flew past me on the bike.. I was pretty impressed.

When I finally got to the stick going back to Madison I was very happy.  My cadence went up and so did my speed quite a bit.  It was mostly downhill and the end was in sight.  I got to the terrace..rode up the helix (yes one final man made hill) gave my bike to a volunteer and ran into T2.  I changed out of my bike top which I had planned on wearing for the run.  It was caked in salt, sweat, grease..some blood from somewhere and GU.  I felt great but did not know if my legs were going to work. I drank another 16 ounces of water before leaving on the run. I was done with the bike in 7:47. My goal time was 8:00.  We also just found out the course was 113 instead of 112 miles.


I found out that I did not have to worry about my legs working..They were ready to go.  The blister I thought I was getting was also gone.  The crowds waiting outside T2 made it impossible not to run..and the crowds went on and on for about 8 blocks.  The city streets were one big cheering section and I heard Scott. 2100 and big guy again and again. I checked my garmin to make sure I was running my 13:30 pace and found out I had run the first mile in a little over 10 minutes.. WTF.  I slowed down immediately and even so my pace was at 12:20. (WARNING - NEXT few lines may be TMI)  At about mile two..I finally had to hydrating all day had paid off.  Found a porta potty and .. umm. urine at all and   red fluid is not the color I wanted to see. Luckily I found my sister in law the doc. (She, my wife and brother were following me on bikes) She said I was probably very dehydrated and Suck it up and walk.  The plan was to walk and hydrate as much as possible.  It was then I notice my new shirt had already soaked through with sweat. I found a walking partner (which was not hard to do). I stopped at every aid station, drank 16 ounces of water and ate bananas. I also filled up my fuel belt with fluids(another 32 ounces) for the walk between stations.  I made it through Camp Randall Stadium and was walking up Observatory Hill when the pain became a little too much. I was fine standing or sitting but moving forward had become increasingly painful.  I also calculated I had eaten two full bananas and had about 80 ounces of water during the last hour and things had gotten worse instead of better. I had made it about 6.5 miles.  At this point I decided to call it a day and thought I was going to cry.  I have been second guessing myself ever since.  At the time it was probably the right choice.  Adrianne and Kristine told me I actually had been caked with salt and had a nice yellow complexion with sunken eyes when I called it. I'm still wondering if I could have saved the day.  I know that physically I had the fitness to complete the Ironman and was on pace to do it under 16 hours..which for me would have been awesome.

So that is my long race report without the ending I had hoped for. With that being said the race was one of the coolest experiences of my life and I was glad to have my family and friends there to share it with me.  All in all I have come a long way in a year.  I was pretty depressed this week but have gotten over it. My wife convinced me to sign up next year now I have a great base to work from and IM Wisconsin 2012 will be here in not time. Hopefully I will be about 20 pounds lighter.

I also want to thank everyone who has been with me through this journey, either as a training partner or just by putting positive comments on facebook.  It has been fun and team Evil Monkey Multisport will be back next year to slay this dragon.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Well I did my first half ironman on July 17th in my childhood home of Racine Wisconsin. The Racine 70.3.  It was a blast and I learned a lot form the experience.  A Half Ironman is 1.2 mile swim - 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run.  The swim took place in Lake Michigan which was quite warm at race time..65 degrees.  It was also the first time I raced wearing a wetsuit.

I had planned on getting to Racine on Thursday night. However a hail storm on Wednesday damaged Frontiers planes and of course the only flight to Milwaukee that was canceled was mine.  Frontier could not get me out or on a partner airline until Monday..which would be a little pointless. I did rebook on Air Tran for Friday afternoon and got to pay an additional $100 charge for my bike.  Frontier is the only airline that does not charge an exorbitant amount for bike boxes.  Getting in Friday night did not allow me to do anything I had planned on except for a quick dip in Lake Michigan.  The water was warm and clear and most importantly calm.  Saturday night my wife and I put my transition bag together with all my equipment.  My friend Doreen told me to pack my salt pills in a baggie so they did not get wet. Since I was not going to wear my running singlet in the water I decided just to throw them in the pocket.  By the way..I agonized over whether to buy a racing singlet ( basically a running jersey without sleeves) most of them are made for guys who top out at 160 lbs so the thought of my body in the singlet conjured up pictures of a pig in a blanket. I found a Pearl Izumi that actually seemed to fit and had to order it straight from the company since they only had 1 XL left in the company.

I actually slept pretty well the night before..didn't get up at all and was wide awake at quarter to five.  My wife, daughter and I loaded the van up left my parents house and headed to the start followed by thirty cars with Illinois plates. Transition was fairly calm since the bikes had to be racked the night before. I had met three or four guys on Saturday while I racked my bike and I must say they were all pretty much jerks. No time to say hello or chat. I did meet two women - one from Germany and one from Denmark and we discussed the finer points of peeing in a wetsuit.  Yes triathletes are a strange lot.  However Sunday morning I was surrounded by first timers, guys my size and just genuinely fun people.  They were all in my swim wave and we talked for 45 minutes about who would be coming in last.  I took my jersey out and of course it was soaking wet.  I had put a NUUN tablet in one of my water bottles which caused the water to shoot out the open drink spout.  And of course the salt pills in my jersey pocket were now completely useless and a huge mess.  Yes Doreen I will listen to you from now on.  I was surprisingly calm. I think a lot of that stemmed from the people I met and the fact that the line at the porta pottys was surprisingly short. My swim wave left at 7:18 which was nice since the last wave had to wait until 8:32 to go.


The swim start in Racine is a mile away from the transition area. You enter the water to the North and swim the 1.2 miles back South.  Thus all of us had to walk the mile down the beach to the swim start.  It was actually fun talking to everyone for the 20 minute walk. Also my wife and daughter walked with us, took pictures and played the role of sherpa. The pros left at 7:00 then a couple of more waves until our wave at 7:18.  I figured it would probably be 55 minutes for me in the water since I am not a great swimmer and I was still getting use to the wetsuit. I also figured I would be doing a little breast stroking.  The water was perfect however I noticed that it was 7 a.m. I was just standing in the water and I was already sweating profusely.  My plan was to start at the end of the wave and let everyone go out and I would follow up the rear as best I could.  After a few strokes and nervousness I remembered to concentrate on my stroke and actually was keeping up with a couple of guys. I decided to "draft" off of one of them by staying in his wake. It worked pretty well. The water was super clear and I could even see the sandy bottom. I also noticed that I was taking quite a few less strokes then the guy I was following but staying the same pace and was not out of breath at all.  The swim seemed to last forever but when I finally saw the red buoy signaling the turn in back to the beach I was stoked.  I was definitely not the last in my wave and was only passed by a few of the elite athletes in the wave behind us.  I got out of the water and was greeted by a 25 yard run through the sand to get to transition.  Now being in the water for the better part of an hour does something to my equilibrium and the sand did not help mattes. However I actually jogged up the path to transition and the waiting wetsuit strippers who stripped my wetsuit off in no time flat.  It was great getting to my bike and seeing very few bikes had already left.  I quickly changed into my jersey and helmet and was on my way.  I did not know it at the time but my swim time was in the 43 minute range. Much faster than I thought I would ever get.


The bike course in Racine is one or two hills and basically gentle rollers. The biggest issues of the day were the heat and the headwind that we rode into for the first 30 miles or so.  I wanted to average 16 mph on the bike but had no idea how I would do.  My bike was fitted with 4 water bottles and an aero bottle which I figured would provide plenty of hydration..I was wrong.  The course was very fast at first and it was nice to get in the aero position and feel like I was really moving. Unfortunately I think everyone on the course was going even faster than me.  The first 30 miles flew by and then I started to think..crap I have to run after this.  Because of my history of hydration issues I drank continuously on the bike and took my salt pills.  Every aid station I would pick up 2 more water bottles. I am chatty so had some conversations with a few people on the guy from Australia and another guy shared his peanut m&m s with me. I had one girl ride behind me and call me by my name.  I was thinking that she must have been pretty impressed with me to look up my bib number and get my name before the race.  Then I realized our names were on our bibs.  I felt good on the bike but not great. I did see a little carnage on the course with three or four riders completely wiped out due to the heat.  The heat wasn't bothering me that bad  I was fully hydrated or so I thought. Although I had drank over 200 ounces of fluid I did not have to pee..and then thought it was a little weird when at mile 45 a slight breeze hit me and I began to shiver.  That was about the same time I came up a hill and saw my wife, daughter and in-laws on the top of the hill cheering everyone on. It was very cool to see and they hurried and made it to the finish line to watch me there.  Not that they had to hurry.  I think I passed two riders and was passed by about 1500 or so it seemed.  I did notice that the fitness of a lot of the women was not related to their body size or fat percentage but by how tan their legs were..yep you start thinking weird things out on the course.  When I did come through the last miles on the bike you could see the runners.. A lot of them looked good and I was thinking crap..everybody feels better than I do..then a long line of people walking the course appeared..more than I have ever seen at a race.  At that point I figured it would be a long day.  My bike ended right where I thought it would with a little over 16 mph average.


Got off my bike..put the running shoes on..glared at my wife when I tried to put my hat on.  She had used it the night before and has a head smaller than a childs..mine on the other hand is the size of a watermelon..thus my childhood nickname of melon head..Lets just say it wasn't fitting.  I passed one woman and told her that she looked like I felt..she said she was packing it in and didn't go out on the run.  There was an aid station immediately outside transition where I threw  ice on my head and took in three cups of water.  I started running and the legs were no there yet so I started walking with another woman. She said she had done Racine 4 times before and this was the worst weather.  We actually passed runners while we were walking.  She said she planned on walking the route because of the heat. Her walking speed was actually faster than my run. I told her I was going to try and run and took off.  5 minutes down the road I was walking again completely overheated.  I ran/walked the first 4-5 miles and after that I knew that if I was going to finish it would be walking.  There was no way for me to get hydrated no matter how much water - GU or salt tablets I took in.  I had a large number of walking partners during the day and at one point it looked like a zombie movie with the number of walkers coming towards me and walking away.  My Run time was horrendous..but I think if I would have pushed it I would have DNF'd.  My shoes were soaked from peoples hoses and pouring water on myself to keep me cool. I ended up with blisters with two miles to go.  When I got to the finishing chute I tried to run and my calves seized up with cramps..I have never had cramps before and never want them again.  I heard my wife, daughter and relatives but didn't see them. Got across the finish line and after two minutes told my wife I needed to go to the med tent which was standing room only.  I got my two 500ml bags of saline and felt 100 times better. We figured I was about 10 lbs light when I was in the med tent even though I thought I had drank huge amounts of fluid.  My run was a complete disaster but I finished.  My wife said they announced the heat index was well over 100 degrees for the race.  I was hoping for a 3 hour half marathon and was even thinking 2:45 would be doable.  However I ended up with a run in the 3:30 Oprah Winfreying effort.  The RESULTS show the train wreck that was my race.  Actually the swim and the bike went well for me. Considering I have lost 35 lbs in the last four months and couldn't swim 200 meters or run 6 miles 6 months ago I am more than pleased.  The only things I would change would be to get my fluids and nutrition under control to at least been able to cut 2 minutes or so off of my mile times.  I also would have tried to find a way to run without my hat..I've got a great looking head and the hat just does not do me justice in my

Overall I had a blast.  My wife, daughter, relatives and friends following me on facebook rocked. I could not have gotten through the day without their moral support.  Further I would have never gotten to the starting line without my wife Kristine's support for all the training hours and putting up with my stupid triathlon talk regarding GU..electrolytes..monkey butt..and weird drink mixes littering the kitchen  My coach Suzanne Atkinson of Steel City Endurance also gets a big shout out along with my friend Doreen who has provided me invaluable tips on how to make it through the endurance events.  I have also met a large number of wonderful friends the last couple of months who all have their own reason and goals for participating in this sport.

Lastly my Mom and Dad have provided me with the inspiration not to quit. My mother had a debilitating stroke when she was my age and for the last 18 years her and my father have had the strength to face everyday anew no matter what the challenge.  For the last five years my mother has been "challenged" with breast cancer and has been going to radiation and chemo since the beginning of the year.  Compared to what my parents have done and continue to do with a positive attitude this Ironman triathlon stuff is a walk in the park..with ice cream.  Love everyone.  Next race is in September.  Hopefully the weather will be nicer.  I have a lot to learn and do in the next few weeks. Like how to install a saline drip on my aerobars for the bike portion.