Monday, March 29, 2010

Ironman California 70.3 Race Report

"Running" with "patience" these two words I have combined the intensity of purpose and the quiet waiting upon Me you must have or else you will be overtaken in the race by fatigue of body and soul. So as I have told you before, come to Me and pour out your praise and your love and your worship. I will bless you and guide you and use you in My own good time and pleasure. You shall not be disappointed.

Above is an excerpt from the wonderful devotional "Come Away My Beloved" by Frances J. Roberts. This devotional was given to me by my Pastor Jeff Biddle and I have taken to reading it race day mornings. It helps me to connect with Him and remove my pre-race anxiousness. I have given Him my praise, love and worship and He has not disappointed me. To Him goes all of the glory for everything I do and accomplish.
My alarm was set for 5AM but I awoke on my own at 4:55. The weather forecast called for sunny skies, low 50's at race start and low to mid 70's by midday. Perfect weather. For breakfast it was a cinnamon raisin bagel followed by a banana. Transition would close at 6:30 and I wanted to get there by 6AM to set up for my 7:13AM start. Our hotel (Days Inn) was perfectly located .7 miles from the transition area so it was just a short bike ride from the hotel. I didn't feel too nervous but I must have been because I made another rookie mistake before the race even started. I found the rack where I was supposed to set up my bike and transition area. I had my gear set out perfectly and quickly ran to the Porta Potties. When I came back to the transition my bike was gone! I started to panic! Why would anyone take my bike and gear! I started looking up and down the bike racks in the transition and then realized my mistake. My race number was 1210, I had set up my transition in 1012! It was too late to move and I sheepishly told the guy next to me what I had done. "You better hide your numbers or you may get DQ'ed!" My race was already off to a precarious start. I hid my numbers as my rack mate suggested and started putting on my wetsuit.


The water temperature was cold as advertised at 59 degrees. Before the race I purchased a Zoot neoprene cap to help keep my head warm. Taking a tip from another triathletes blog I decided to wear wool socks while I waited to swim out to the start to keep my feet warm. The beauty of wool is it keeps you warm even when wet. The race officials did allow "booties" to be worn because of the temperature being below 60 degrees but I didn't have any of those. IMCA's swim start is in waves while in the water. As each wave starts the next wave swims out to the buoy start line. The up side is you are not in the water long before your race starts so you don't get cold treading water waiting. Most of the wait is on dry land in a crowded corral. As I waited for 30 minutes slowly inching my way to the water as each wave started, I realized my next two early mistakes of the race. One, I forgot to eat my GU and two I was already thirsty and did not have water with me like most of the athletes around me. Mad that I may come out of the swim hungry and dehydrated I closed my eyes, tried to relax and prayed. As they called my wave in to the water I fumbled to set my watch (why didn't I do this earlier) and started to swim to the start line. I'm a confirmed slow swimmer so I had a bit of panic wondering if I could swim to the start, maybe 50 yards before the gun went off!I made it with time to spare and then my race began. At the last minute I had decided to leave my wool socks on during the swim. How much can they slow me down when I'm already slow and at least my feet will not be frozen on exit. I'm pretty sure I was the only one in the race swimming in wool socks! As I've said before, when you are sighting buoys in the water the distance seems so far but this time I just put my face down in the water and kept a constant steady stroke and with each sighting I could see my progress. I felt none of the panic that I had in previous races and knew I could do the 1.2 mile distance. As with any triathlon I got kicked and I kicked others. As I rounded the far buoy I was gaining confidence and even started swimming faster, but told myself to slow down and keep it steady. My swim time may not be indicative of this but I easily had my best swim ever in a triathlon. No panic, I was not cold, and I felt like I could have done a faster and longer swim. As I climbed up the boat ramp to exit the water, wetsuit strippers were on hand to unzip me and help me get at least partially out of my suit. Awesome! Note: I was not cold after the swim (neoprene cap and wool socks?)

I took my time to drink water, eat a GU, spray on sunscreen and put on my trusty SLS3 Compression socks. All of this takes time but most important for me is being prepared and not forgetting anything. I know the transitions are free time and its something I should practice but haven't made it a priority.
GOAL 7:00
ACTUAL 10:59

I left transition leaving my arm warmers behind since I had considered wearing them for warmth and sun protection but decided against it) There is a short very steep climb out of the harbor and then the first 20 miles are on relatively easy terrain. I found myself averaging 22 to 23 MPH and was tempted to ride harder but held back at maybe a 70% perceived effort. My legs felt great but I knew that all of the major hills were not until mile 29 and I had heard rumors that some people have to walk one of the hills. I also wanted to be very careful not to push my self to hard on my strength, the bike, only to falter on the 13.1 miles I had to run later. Thirty miles in I saw the hill. It looked impressive from a distance but in my experience you can never truly judge a climb on the bike until you are on it. At the base of the hill was an aid station with volunteers handing out water bottles to anyone who wanted one or two. Maybe its my bike experience but I was thinking "why would I take on three pounds of water before riding the toughest climb on the course?" I rode past the eager volunteers and started the climb. Before I know it, I was already in my lowest gear (39x23) and just turning the pedals over at 4 - 5 MPH. It wasn't a matter of making it up the hill, I was more concerned with what this hill was doing to my run time! Halfway up the climb there they were, racers walking their bikes. Even a guy with an aero time trial helmet which made me wonder how many seconds he saved wearing an aero helmet while walking up the hill? In his defense I was estimating the grade to be 12-14%. I talked later to some athletes who confirmed this and said it has some short sections that are 16%! Ouch! If I had to do it again I would consider a 39x25 gearing set up on my bike to save my legs. I talked to a few guys who were running compact cranks for this race. Nobody told me! Despite the hills, the course was beautiful and the roads were in good shape. I should also mention there were very strong cross winds on the back side of the course that made things sketchy with my high profile wheels. The final 12 miles are mostly downhill as the course headed back to the coast pushed along by a nice tailwind. I also witnessed for the first time "on-bike evacuation", or peeing on the bike, something that I've heard is commonplace in Ironman events. Unfortunately this woman didn't realize she was peeing during a strong cross wind that blew her urine in the the face of another competitor! Fortunately as I was passing her I was on the windward side but I can tell you the recipient of her "evacuation" was not too happy! As I headed towards the transition area I looked at my computer and saw I had done a great ride. I could have gone harder but I was focused on staying within my goal time so I could have a good run.
GOAL TIME 3:25:00

I racked my bike, ate another GU put on my hat and running shoes and then asked a volunteer to spray me down with sunscreen again and stopped at the "Potty". (I refuse to "evacuate" on the bike)

I've had some strong "brick" workouts preparing for this race but I've never done a half marathon after a 1.2 mile swim and a 56 mile bike. The first mile is always the hardest as your legs now adjust to running versus spinning. It's important to run easy until the legs adapt...they always do...eventually. I was trying to settle in to my goal pace of 9:35 minute miles which by my normal running standards is slow even for my ability. As I reached the 2 mile marker I looked at my watch and saw I was running roughly a 10 minute mile pace and my legs did not feel great. I was disappointed that I was running so slow and began wondering if I might have to walk near the end of my run, something I never do. Much of the run course was on the strand next to the beach in Oceanside before it went up a short steep hill one block to a residential road with a few minor hills. There were tons of people along the race course cheering on everyone who was trying to finish, and with everyone's name printed on their bib number people would call you out to personally encourage you. It was a beautiful day and running along the beach in sunny weather was much more fun than my last race running around a lake in the pouring rain. My legs did start improving and after finishing the first of two laps I was gaining confidence I could finish strong. The key was keeping my heart rate under control even though my legs felt better and I was tempted to run harder. I had no experience to draw from how hard I could push myself and wanted to be conservative. As I hit mile 11 of the run, I looked at my watch and knew it would be close for me to make my goal time of 6:30:00. I started picking up the pace at the same time as a woman in front of me. She was my carrot and I was chasing her to the finish. We were both flying by other competitors and as we raced the final mile people were yelling our names. With 400 meters to go I could see the race clock in the distance and knew I would make it. I had a huge smile on my face the entire way to the finish line. When I found my wife Liz I was surprisingly overcome with joyful laughter and emotion hugging her and repeating "I did it! I did it!"


Friday, March 26, 2010

Ironman California 70.3 Goals

My first goal is to just finish. This is my first Half Ironman. My ultimate is to finish within or under six hours and thirty minutes. Having never done this distance I don't know what to expect but I have set these goals for tomorrow. Any prayers would be appreciated for a safe and injury free race and maybe a chance to show or tell someone about God's love for them.

SWIM - 48:00
T1 - 7:00
BIKE - 3:25:00
T2 - 5:00
RUN - 2:05:00

TOTAL TIME 6:30:00

Thursday, March 25, 2010

This is it! Ironman 70.3

I have to admit it's been nice to have an easy training work load this week. I really feel like my tapering is right on. I've enjoyed the extra rest but I have some anxiousness to get out on the race course to see what I can do. Here is what this week of training has looked like.
Monday - Day Off

Tuesday - 1 Hour easy ride with hills

Wednesday - Swim 1,250 yards Run 2.5 miles easy pace (8:40)
Thursday - Day Off (What? two days off in one week?)
Friday - Easy pre-ride of IMCA run course. (No pre-riding of bike course allowed)

I also wanted to tell you about some products that I've been using and believe in.
SLS3 Compression Socks.
The socks rock! I first saw these socks when my wife and I were in Kona watching the Ironman World Championship. I saw these elite triathletes wearing old school knee high socks that haven't been worn since Michael Cooper of the the 80's era Lakers. I later found out that they were compression socks that help with performance and recovery. I had to try them and after three triathlons a half marathon and numerous runs of 8 -12 miles, these socks make a difference! SLS3 is the only brand made of polypropylene which wicks moisture faster than the nylon socks of its competitors. Give them a try on your next 10K or longer run and you will be amazed!

Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem.
The last three weeks I wanted to start testing nutrition products for easy fueling during a Half Ironman and eventually Ironman. My search started and ended with this product. I have to say that nutrition is very subjective for triathletes and I fortunately have been blessed with a caste iron stomach, however this product goes down easy and fuels you for very long time. I've twice ridden 100 kilometers followed by a two mile run on a banana and one package of Perpetuem and felt great afterward. This is my fuel of choice for IMCA.

Bontrager Aeolus 5.0 Wheels
I've had these wheels in a box in my garage and finally busted them out for IMCA. I did my last training ride (100K) on these wheels and I have to say they are amazing! Light, Stiff and VERY VERY FAST! If nothing else it makes me look fast and makes my bike look good! I even received my first ever compliment on my four year old Trek Madone after putting these wheels on..."that's a nice bike"

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Final Training Week

The work is done! I'm on the final week of 20 weeks of preparation for Ironman California 70.3, my first Half Ironman. Today (Sunday) my plan had me running "only" eight miles at an easy pace. I held back despite feeling good and ended up at the pace I was targeting while keeping my heart rate generally in the 150's or lower. The focus the next five days before my event will be recovery and tapering my workouts just enough to keep my body honed and ready for next Saturday. I'm so thankful to make it this far in my Ironman journey without any injury our illness. I have no doubt that God has blessed this journey so far and allowed me to pursue the Ironman and hopefully for some greater purpose. I love what Paul says, "Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?" For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.


Monday - Another Day Off :)
Tuesday - Bike 1 hour w/hills
Wednesday - Swim 1,250 yards. Run 4 miles speed work.
Thursday - BRICK Ride 1 hour w/hills followed by 2 mile run at 8:25 pace.
Friday - Swim 1,300 yards
Saturday - BRICK Bike 60 miles followed by 1 mile run at easy pace
Sunday - 8 Mile run with hills at 9:02 pace.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ironman 70.3 Training

After the Desert Triathlon test it was back to my final two weeks of training before IMCA. Having a "break" in training to do a race really helps morale and I believe fitness as well. When I got back on the bike after my off day, I was a little sore but still rode my usual time on the hilly course I like to do. If you are looking at my training numbers you will notice that they are basically staying the same each week. This was not my original intention for my program. Unfortunately time constraints and a very rainy So. Cal. winter have made me adjust my program accordingly. For my Tuesday and Thursday bike I would like to be riding 90 to 120 minutes. For my Wednesday run I wanted to do six miles instead of the four I'm doing now. I also wanted to do more brick workouts after my long Saturday rides but it just has not worked out. I now realize how important it is to do runs after the bike, even short runs of 10 to 15 minutes minutes. You may be asking why I'm not swimming more? Well my excuse is...I'm not really a fan of swimming and there is the expense of $5 every time I go! My goal for the 70.3 is to experience the challenge of doing something I have never done before and to finish strong. At the same time I want to keep some kind of balance in my life. I was not blessed with the athletic talent to be competitive triathlete so for me to try and be one would just be about me and my ego. I do believe that God has gifted me with a healthy body and a love for physical challenge and I pray that competing in an Ironman at whatever speed gives glory and honor to Him. I want to always have perspective that time with God and ministry, and time with my wife and daughter are the most important times of all.
Monday - DAY OFF!
Tuesday - Bike 1 hour w/hills
Wednesday - Swim 1,250 yards. Run 4 miles speed work.
Thursday - BRICK Ride 1 hour w/hills followed by 2 mile run at 8:30 pace.
Friday - Swim 1,250 yards
Saturday - BRICK Bike 62 miles followed by 2 mile run at 8:40 pace
Sunday - 11 Mile run with hills at 9:14 pace.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Desert International Triathlon Race Report

After checking in to my hotel I decided to drive out to the event location to meet Ron Saetermoe owner of Triathica and do an easy pre-ride of the bike course. It was also an opportunity for me to learn from Ron's extensive tri experience. As we rode a leisurely pace and talked about the race and Ironman, I knew this would be a very fast course unless the predicted rain fell on race day. Whatever malaise I suffered from on Friday seemed to disappear as I envisioned hammering my bike around this course on race day.

When I woke up this morning I looked out of my hotel window to see the sidewalks and streets were dry. It was cloudy and cold but still a good day. I arrived at the park set up my transition area and prepared for the 3/4 mile swim donning my wetsuit, earplugs, and goggles. It is so daunting for me to look out at a lake and strain my eyes for the buoys I have to swim to. The distance seems so far. I have to keep reminding myself that I've done this distance before. Then I start thinking about the cold water and Ironman Ron telling me he may wear a neoprene cap, something I don't have. Fear and anxiety start building up as I wait for my wave to start. The thought of quitting enters my mind and I quickly push it out with positive thoughts and prayer and this is before I even start the race! I started a conversation with two guys next to me for distraction. One is from Toronto Canada and has no fear of cold water. The other is from California. He tested the water and told me its freezing. We watch as a number of swimmers from each wave quit the race and head to shore as if the lake is shark infested. The gun sounds and we head to the water. I walk as long as I can to avoid as long as possible getting my chest wet. The first thing I notice is that my feet don't seem that cold. Maybe its the 53 degree air temp vs. the 63 degree water temp. I plunge my whole body in and start swimming. The water hits my chest and I have to catch my breath, which messes up my stroke, which causes me to panic. Fortunately I have my wetsuit on which keeps me floating. I started swimming again slowly and as I got used to the water temp I rounded the first buoy and was starting to get in to a groove with my slow and deliberate style. I flipped over to backstroke for a minute and as I looked in to the sky a seagull flew over and I was reminded of a Switchfoot song about faith, how my faith can sustain me thru the swim. Faith in God, faith in myself. With renewed confidence, I finished my swim. So much fear and self doubt trying to deceive me.
GOAL TIME: :35:00

As I ran to my bike, happy I survived the swim and beating my goal time, the rain started falling. So much for a dry race. I had a wind vest and armwarmers in my transition bag so I pulled them out and put them on to try and stay warm during the ride. Unfortunately I made the mistake of not rolling up my socks and struggled with them, then a woman came up to me and asked me if I saw her husband who was racked next to me. Huh? As the rain came down I left the transition and started my bike.
T1 ACTUAL 8:18!?

This is the part of the race of course I love. Even in the rain I had my revenge on the numerous people who swim faster than me. I heard a bunch of guys complaining about riding a bike in the rain. Having raced bikes in the rain many times I actually found it to be easier in a tri. In a bike race your sitting in the peleton getting covered with dirt and grit flying off of everyone's wheels. Hearing these guys complain just made me stronger. My first lap I averaged 20 MPH and wondered if I was saving anything for the run. I felt great and decided to keep up the pace or push it harder on the second lap. It was one of those good days. At the end of the second lap my average was 20.7. With one hill to climb back in to transition I kept it in my big ring and stood up passing a few more riders. I was soaking wet and despite armwarmers and vest, starting to get cold as I racked my bike.
GOAL TIME 1:20:00

I had the forethought to cover my running shoes and hat with my towel before I left on the bike, not that it mattered as the rain continued to fall. I opted to keep my vest and armwarmers on for the run and jogged over to the Porta Potty. (Too much hydrating in cold wet weather) as I climbed in I started shivering violently rocking the Potty! Good call on wearing the extra clothing for the run!

Most of the run was on dirt trails and roads that took us around Lake Cahuilla. Other than being cold, my legs felt pretty good after my great ride. I settled in to an easy pace for the first mile so my legs could adapt from the bike. The course was mostly flat with a couple of very small hills. I've never run in armwarmers or a bike wind vest before. You would think that I would overheat, but starting the run so cold and with the constant rain I felt just right the entire time. My run was going well and I knew I was on track to meet my time for the run and overall for the race. If you saw me the last mile of the run the first thing you would have noticed is the huge smile I wore on my face. Like former Ironman Champion Natascha Badmann who would often run with a smile, I was just happy to be able to use the gifts God has given me so that I can try and live life to the fullest.
GOAL TIME: 56:00


This race was a huge morale boost for me as IMCA nears. Although IMCA is roughly double the distance of an Olympic event, my training is paying dividends. To not meet my goals in this race would have been devastating. I did learn from this event. On the nutrition side I found out why I struggled in the past with stomach cramps in the first mile of the run. Don't chug all of your sports drink in the last miles of the bike! Take in as much fluids and or nutrition as you can early in the bike. This helps you to recover from the swim and fuels you for the remainder of the race with out causing stomach problems. Socks. Most tri people frown on socks except for maybe the run. I've gotta wear socks. I had wool socks for the rain which kept my feet warm and I LOVE my SLS3 compression socks! The problem is putting them on after the swim. It seems to take me forever even when drying my feet and rolling up my socks to the toes. I just need to keep practicing!
Pre- Race Meal
1 Bagel
1 Banana
Race Nutrition
3 GU gels. (with caffeine) One before the swim and one in each transition.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Desert International Triathlon

Although I have some questions about my health I'm on my way to Palm Desert to race at the Desert International Triathlon. This will be my third triathlon all of them being Olympic distance. I'm hoping to see improvement at this distance and more specifically use this race as a tuneup for IMCA in three weeks. I feel the area I've improved the most is my running and ironically enough with all of the unusual rain we have had here in SoCal I have not been in the saddle nearly as much as I would have liked. Of course that is my supposed strength so we will see how that works out. I'm still a slow swimmer but was feeling more confident until my workout Friday morning. I have some specific goals for this race however the forecast is calling for possible rain. I've done my share of bike races in the rain but never a triathlon! It could be interesting. Look for my race report Monday. I would love to get under the three hour mark for this distance. Any and all prayers are greatly appreciated!
Goal times:

Swim - 35:00

T1- 4:30

Bike - 1:20:00

T2 - 3:00

Run - 56:00

TOTAL TIME 2:58:30

Friday, March 5, 2010

Ironman Training Update

I can't believe its been nearly three weeks since I've posted and I'm now three week out from IMCA. I have some of the best weeks of training going in to this week but now I'm feeling a bit tired. In fact I had one of my worst swim workouts in weeks. I couldn't breath right, my chest felt tight and I just felt lethargic. Almost everyone in our office at work has been very sick the past two weeks and I've been trying to avoid the germs and asking God for continued good health. I'm not sure if I'm a little over trained, trying to fight something off or both.
Here is a look at my training the last week.
Monday - REST!
Tuesday - Bike one hour with hills.
Wednesday - Run four miles speed work (2 miles sub 8 min.) Swim 1,250 yards.
Thursday - Brick workout. Bike one hour with hills followed by two mile run.
Friday - Swim 1,250 yards
Saturday - Run 12.1 Miles (8:50 pace) in the pouring rain!
Sunday - Bike 2:30 with hills.