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Weekend Warrior

  • A bit of an Introduction to one of our Weekend Warriors

    Back to basics.

    Wow, it's been a month since I updated this properly. Why? Well things have been real slack here and yet as busy as hell at the same time. Unfortunately work and all the other things that ruin your social life are the things that have been busy, so the things worthy of a blog posting have been very rare indeed.

    I planned a 40mile run for my 40th birthday back in Dec, but it was so freakin cold that day that I turned it into a 40k. God Bless the metric system ;-). Then 3 days later I went out for a nice gentle 7mile shake down run and pulled my calf, officially my first EVER running injury. I wasn't happy about it, or the way it appeared. If I'm going to injure myself I want it to be a full pelt hammering to the finish line of a race in a head to head, not while jogging steadily along the Tarka Trail. I've also had a diagnosis on my 'crunchy' chest that appeared shortly after Ironman Florida, it appears that I've damaged my Xiphoid process, hmmmmm maybe 5hrs in the Tri Bars squashes it a bit.

    Christmas and New Year came and went without any hassles or any training due to the calf pull. They were both great of course but everybody has them so I doubt very much you'd want to read about mine.

    A couple of weeks ago I got asked to write something by way of a blog post for Bideford People and/or Barnstaple People . I'm guessing that the best way to start this would be to introduce myself and as it's the start of a new year and hopefully the start of a successful Ironman Hawaii adventure. For those of you who know me you'd be better skipping the next bit ;-).

    So here goes. I'm Iain, I'm a lorry driver and I live near Barnstaple in North Devon which is in the South West of the UK. Coping with my sometimes lacklustre sometimes manic lifestyle is the long long long suffering girlfriend Shelly and our 3 year old lunatic but loveable Springer Spaniel Rosie. I've been pootling along in Triathlon for 15 years or so and was running on and off for a few years before that. I can swim pretty well, I can run pretty well but my biking is a bit of a let down by comparison. Biking is my weakest discipline hence it's the discipline I like the least need to train at the most but actually (of course) train at the least.

    Ironman is the daddy of Triathlon and takes a full day to complete. Comprising of a 2.4mile swim, 112mile bike ride and a 26.2mile run. To make the distances a bit easier to understand imagine popping down to Barnstaple Leisure Centre and swimming 154 lengths. After the swim you might hop on your bike and ride to Clovelly and back, just three times should cover it. Once back at the Leisure Centre for the 3rd time you could leave your bike, slip on your trainers, jump on the Tarka Trail and run to Instow and back, twice. The Elite athletes (who do this sport for a living) will complete this little lot in in 8-9hrs and those towards the back of the field will take twice that amount of time.

    In 2009 I raced Ironman Florida and after many messed up attempts I finally managed to put in a decent performance, finishing the event in 9h39m. This was not only a personal best time by over an hour but finishing 8th out of the 400 in my Age Group qualified me for the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.

    Doing these races doesn't come cheap, the day after qualifying I had to hand over a full £360 just to enter the Hawaii race. My family as always have been a huge help though and with the amazing support of my Tri Club North Devon Tri helping out too (read about it here) I'm determined that come October 9th this year I will let no one down.

    After a couple of minor niggles over the holiday period the big build for Kona starts now and I'm happy to have you along. The more the merrier. Please leave me comments/ideas/thoughts too so that I know you're there.

    If you're a local (or not so local) business and you can think of a way we can mutually benefit each other then let me know. I'd love to be able to afford this adventure without becoming a drain on my family and friends, so if you can help and I can put a few hours in/get you some good publicity etc on the back of my training and my race then please get in touch :-)

    Thanks for reading, here's to a hugely successful 2010.

    This Weekend Warrior Report is contributed by Iain
    http://devoniain.blogspot.com/
    Follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/devoniain
  • Weekend Warrior Update- Life Begins At 40! (So they say)

    Life begins at 40, so they sayI’ll start with the Training Log. After the Aquathlon on the 6th I had 3 days off and then it all just seemed to kick into gear. I cranked out 1h45m on my hybrid bike (the shopper) on Thursday, then did a 1hr run/1hr swim on Friday and a 1h45m bike /1hr run on Saturday. It all looked good going into the Club’s Christmas Party on Saturday night, but that’s where it stopped and I’ve done diddly squat since. I suspect that 4 days of nothing is hardly ideal preparation for the planned 40mile run this Sunday. It’ll be interesting to see if that actually happens.

    So onto my Birthday!!! On Tuesday (15th) I hit the big 4-0! I know, it’s hard to believe I’m any older than 30 with my youthful looks and my amazing physique isn’t it? Well now that my tongue has been prized from my cheek I can get on with the tales of my Birthday goings on.

    So it’s my 40th and I’ve been to and heard of enough 40th parties to really just expect anything and be surprised by nothing in the weekend before. I couldn’t help wondering if my parents were going to show up at some point, it’s just the sort of thing they’d do. I even opted out of phoning them to discuss the football, just in case they didn’t answer and I ruined any surprise. As the day went on there was no sign, but then when we rocked up at the Tri Club’s Christmas Dinner that evening there they were sat at the end of a table with my nephew David. I genuinely had no idea (just my suspicious mind) and it was great to have them there, the only problem being that after they’d travelled all that way we didn’t actually spend that much time together as the whole ‘club thing’ was going on too. There was of course Birthday Cake too (my second one) which I’m still troughing my way through. Couple all that with my mixed bag of Birthday presents including the healthy (Nike Air Pegasus and a Garmin 310XT) and the not so healthy (cake, chocolate and TWO bottles of Drambuie).

    The only downsides to my birthday were the fact that people kept wanting to celebrate it before the day (didn’t they realise I was in no rush to hit 40) and that on the day itself I had to work a 14hr shift. Ah well.

    Tune back in tomorrow for the big tale of the weekend, the North Devon Tri Presentation Night. That really was something else.

    This Weekend Warrior Report is contributed by Iain
    http://devoniain.blogspot.com/
    Follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/devoniain
  • Weekend Warrior Report

    Monday, December 07, 2009

    The one that got away- Cow Chip

    Six days after Ironman Arizona I found myself standing on the starting line of the Cow Chip Cross Country race in Trumbull.

    Having won the race last year, I felt that I should go back and try to defend my win.

    I was not 100%. I'd limped around Arizona for two days before I felt ready to even put 20 minutes of running in on Wednesday. I'd spun an hour on Friday and I was psyched for this, but I was also not really fully healed or ready.

    When I went to sign up they told me they were expecting me to be there, but they'd put aside #1 for me, so I handed over my check (which Marty later ripped up) and pinned the number to my shirt- I'd forgotten my race belt.

    My warm-up was limited to run out to the starting line and doing a few sprints. I ran into Charlie Hornak and we talked a little about the Branford Thanksgiving race. He'd had a decent race but was talking about building his speed. It seemed like we were out there early even though it was only about 10 of, then suddenly the mass of runners that had been avoiding the cold in the school cafeteria came out, followed by Marty on his bike.

    Marty acknowledged a number of runners that were there- past winners and so on- and then we were off.

    I didn't take the lead early. I'd spotted a couple of kids/guys I thought might be a threat. I picked my line to the goal post (the race starts on the football field, just like my old high school days), got there and I was quickly in third. The course takes a right, then a left and by the time we got to the backstop, I knew I had to pull in front and take control of the race.

    Which I did.

    I felt- good isn't the right word. I was running strong, but not really fast or anything. I was chasing Marty but then we went into the woods and I was leading a few people. The front pack had already thinned out and I felt good. I always feel good running through the woods. I feel like if I'm in front in the woods, you're really going to have to work to take that away from me.

    We broke out of the woods. Marty's women's cross country team was supposed to marshall the course. Only two showed up. I came out at a point where you go right early in the race, and go left late in the race.

    I didn't know which way to go.

    Who's fault is that ?

    Mine. It's my responsibility to know the course.

    Bang, I was in third.

    I settled in a second time. We broke out of the woods and I was third behind a guy I thought I could take late in the race and a guy I wasn't sure about. We went around the front of the school, by the barn, into a short section of woods and back around again. I could not eliminate the distance and get back in front.

    We wrapped around the middle of the course and headed towards the stream/wall. the two guys in front of me went around it. I went around it. We were all within a few seconds of each other. As we went up a short hill, two of us made our move. The guy in second moved up to first and I moved up to second.

    We went under a pavilion of some sort and then we were headed back towards the woods. My goal was to stay close and make a move in the last 750 yards.

    This was the wrong strategy. I didn't lose any ground in the woods, but I also didn't gain any, and after we broke out the backside of the woods, I did try to pick it up.

    But in the end, it was too little too late.

    When the winner crossed the line, I shut it down and lost another 3-4 seconds, but my calf was hurting.

    I had not done my job. I could have, in my opinion, but I didn't.

    I warmed down with Charlie and an Australian guy who was also a previous race winner, then I hopped in the car right away and drove home so Margit would have some time to do some things.

    This one had gotten away.

    This Weekend Warrior Report is contributed by Alan MacDougal http://rochpunk.blogspot.com/
    Follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/cyberdyne
    Tags: Arizona Ironman, Triathlete, vitalyte, Weekend Warrior
  • Weekend Warrior Report

    Ironman Arizona-The Run

    I came in off the bike and grabbed my bag from transition. Once again, there was no thought of going into the tent. I changed quickly into my running shoes and visor- I decided on the free Tribike Transport visor because it matched my kit, and hey, it was free. If I needed to toss it, I would toss it.

    I did stop to try and use the port-potty. I peed a little, but mostly wasted 45 seconds.

    Then I ran out and asked which direction was out.

    'Through the tent.'

    It was my only time all day in the tent.

    I ran through quickly, located the sunscreen people and said 'Face, back of neck, arms, legs. And hands.' I'd had the exchange planned while I was still on the bike. After the sun poisoning that I'd gotten in my first race here, I'd sprayed sunscreen all over myself before the swim, and knew I'd need more on the run, as almost my entire run would be under the desert sun.

    I'd put my watch on for the run and started it as I went under the arch at about 6:38:30.

    I saw Steve almost immediately and began working to real him in. I got to the mile mark and he was close, but problematically, I'd run a 7:30.

    Way too fast.

    I went through the first water stop. I needed endurolytes and had just taken a GU. A volunteer actually followed me into the aid station, asking what I wanted, which I can't tell you how much I appreciated, as I'd later get stiffed at three different aid stations. I told him I needed water and got it, downed the endurolytes and kept running.

    I caught Steve on the bridge and asked if he minded if I ran with him for a while. He said no, but we were running at different paces, and although I wanted to slow down and work my way into the marathon, I just couldn't do it.

    I ran the second mile in about 7:15.

    Huh ?

    Yeah.

    I did slow it down after that, although mile 3 is a downhill mile. If you've never seen the course, it's kind of amazing. They've managed to pack an entire marathon into a course that only covers a few miles of roads. You run out, over the river, er lake, um why can't we just call it a canal ? then back over the water again, through transition, down to the next bridge, over that, run a loop that takes you to both the biggest hill and the biggest downhill on the course, back over the second bridge, and back past transition.

    Three bridges and you run on both sides of the water. The biggest negative about the run is that too much of it is on concrete.

    Over the third bridge on the way out, I saw Eric and he told me I looked solid, or something like that. I waved, slightly.

    The real test for me was at about 4 miles. Over the second bridge, on the way out, was where I'd cracked last time I did the race, where I'd ducked into the porta-potty and tried to go, then come out and walked.

    There was an amazing amount of shame in that for me. I never really got it, to the point where I had to go back and do the race again primarily because it had beaten me once and I couldn't accept that.

    I ate a GU as I ran by the potties, grabbed a water and downed some endurolytes and I never slowed down. Was I a little afraid of the aid station ? Yeah, I was. The knowledge I'd cracked there-

    And then it was just another spot on the run and I was past it.

    I took it easy up the hill. Then, because of my leg, I took it easy on the downhill.

    As I was coming back to the bridge the lead male's entourage was catching up to us. It's kind of tight on the path and I was yelling at people to get out of the way of the motorcycle. 'Come on, it's the lead male. He's already won Canada. Get out of the way.' The truth is that a motorcycle probably shouldn't be on the run course when the run course is a pedestrian path, but that's how it goes. I think he was double-lapping me.

    That's DOUBLE-lapping me. Ouch. Humble much ?

    I made it back into transition. I was low on GU- only had three, and I took one at the loop marker and then it was out again towards the arts center. I was running OK, but not great. I was really happy to be on the second loop.

    It was cool at the long fountain by the art center, and then I was working my way up through people. Even though wasn't running especially well, I was passing people. I got down close to the hotel we were staying at and back to the aid station with the uber-helpful guy. He again escorted me in to the area where I got the water I wanted so I could down more electrolytes and it was back on the bridge again, one of the bigger 'uphills' on the course. By now I was running with certain goals in mind.

    Then at about 10 miles the 5th place woman passed me. I know because she was escorted by a mountain bike. When you're the 5th woman, there's no motorcycle and camera, I guess. She passed me, but then she didn't gap me. I was actually getting annoyed. I was still trying to keep my effort steady, and didn't I have to be running harder to not be getting dropped by a pro woman (who had just lapped me) ? Yeah, it's a weird sport. Then, I realised what he problem was as she ducked into a porta-potty. I never saw her again- and I unlapped myself !

    Does the Ironman have a scrap of mercy ? No. While the 5th place woman was in the crapper, she became the 6th place woman as the former 6th place woman went by me.

    She did drop me.

    Eric likes to break the marathon into ten miles, ten miles and then 10K, and I think that's very useful. I have some benchmarks I work with as well- 13 miles, and for no real reason, 22 miles.

    I saw Ian and Margit again on the run and think it might have been when I exchanged a high five with Ian. That was somewhere close to twelve miles.

    I first took cola right before that, because I was out of GUs. The soda picked me up and then upset my stomach. The upset didn't last as long as the pick-me-up, so I went with it.

    It was a big relief to hit the back half of the run course, if there is such a thing on a three loop course. I saw Eric again and he was- as always- nothing but positive energy. Shortly after I saw him I was again headed to that area I'd walked at in 2007 and-

    I was worried. I was hurting a lot more than on the first lap. Screw it. I went through with no difficulty and now I'd heaped dirt on this area that had beaten me in 2007. Of course, that uphill graded area of the course hadn't beaten me. I'd beaten myself- that and the sun poisoning and the desalination. Not this time. I ran through the aid station, took some more cola, and then I was easing my way up the big hill for the second time.

    I wasn't feeling that great though.

    I had to pee, but after I went down the biggest downhill on the run course, there was nowhere for it.

    I was having a harder and harder time running. So I found a large utility pole- some monstrous grey metal thing, ducked 'behind' it, bent at the knees, and peed. If this is too gross for you, so be it. I didn't pull down my shorts. I just peed.

    And then I started running again.

    I felt a lot better. I went through the Inspiration Station and it didn't pick me up like it had the first time 'We love You'. Isn't that sweet. I was going to fast to see my message come up. After that I just concentrated on getting through the second loop and out onto the third loop.

    I was so psyched to be on that third loop. About a mile in, getting close to the aid station, I found myself running with a guy and a woman that were talking to each other. They were on their second loop and I was on my third and yet I was having trouble passing them at first. Then I basically got tired of listening to them talk and passed them. I got more great service in the aid station, and was back out on the bridge- that bridge I'd be going over the last time.

    The third loop of a three-loop ironman is a thing unto itself. It's liberating in that the end of the day is coming for you and yet, there is still a lot of work to do. I got stiffed at the last aid station before 22 miles, but when I got there, to 22, I really felt like I'd done my job, and put myself in a position to have a chance to-

    Do what ?

    When I'd left transition at the start of the run I'd set a goal- break 10:40. Not a lofty goal, but I just needed to run a solid 3:40 on one good leg to do that.

    With four miles left, I needed to run about 8:00s.

    I kept pushing through and ticking off the miles, but by the time I got to 25 miles, the numbers on the watch weren't adding up. I was not going to make the 10:40 mark.

    Of course, as deadlines go, this wasn't killer. It wasn't the difference between qualifying or not qualifying, or between getting a medal or crossing the line with the lights out.

    I had three people in my sites as we wended through the parking lot. Because Ian had run the kids mile run the day before, I knew what the finish line was set up like. I passed two of the three people I was trying to run down before I reached the final turn into the straight away. Then I had a dilemma.

    The guy in blue and yellow I was trying to pass didn't want to be passed. He picked it up in a big way and went by him under the Ford black inflatable. There was no strategy. I just ran as hard as I could, and then it was over.

    I had beaten him to the line, and while he tried to recover, I got my picture taken.

    But I was whooped...

    This Weekend Warrior Report is contributed by Alan MacDougal http://rochpunk.blogspot.com/
    Follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/cyberdyne
    Tags: Arizona Ironman, Triathlete, vitalyte, Weekend Warrior
  • Weekend Warrior Update

    Ironman Arizona-The Bike

    I have never been so glad to be on my bike. Just surviving the swim seemed like a journey worth the trip.

    When I signed up for the race last year, I thought that the winds would be less of an issue in November than April on the bike and that was not exactly correct. It was obvious right away that the wind was going to be a factor all day, although not as bad as April 2007. Having dealt with it before, I felt prepared. It was going to make the ride challenging both physically and psychologically, because no matter what direction it took, it would be in my face for a long way. I'm a fan of getting punished on the way out and enjoying the tailwind on the way back, so that was my hope.

    I got my wish. As we worked through the early set of turns that take you out to the reservation, it was clear the wind would be in my face on the way to the turn around.

    Eric had said to give our stomach 15 minutes before starting to eat, so I sipped at my Gatorade and took some Endurolytes. My legs were basically stumps. I couldn't feel my feet, my achilles tendons had no flexion, and my calf was still pretty sore. Of course, the cure for the calf was drop my heel and extend my pedal stroke to stretch out the calf muscle, except that I couldn't drop my heel...

    My race almost ended around the time I first went to eat. As I passed one athlete, he decided it was time for a bathroom break- on the other side of the road. He started cutting across the road as I was finishing my pass and he nearly t-boned my back wheel. I was not happy.

    I was relying mostly on Clif Rocks for solid food. In hindsight, a 50/50 mix of Rocks and Blocks would have been a better choice. The second banana I'd eaten that morning was also waffling between the good idea and bad idea columns. I think it's safe to say that two bananas and a Red Bull are probably not a perfect choice.

    Once we started heading out to the reservation my early speed started to bleed away. Turning the pedals is an amazingly mechanical process. I was sore and a little discouraged, but I'd still managed over 20 mph out to Beeline Highway. That average started to head south as we turned into the wind. I looked down and saw I was going 14-15 mph per hour at some points, but I wasn't worried. I knew that I had what I wanted. Into the wind on the false flat out- it's pretty much a steady slight uphill grade out to Shea Road (the turn around).

    The drafting wasn't too bad on this first loop.

    I had to pee for the first time on the way out, probably 15 miles into the bike. The last time I'd done the race I'd gotten severely dehydrated (my pee started burning during the bike and continues to feel like fire for three days after the race). I could tell I was much better hydrated. I took turns with gatorade and water bottles all through the bike. The funny thing about peeing on the bike this time was that it felt hot coming out and on my leg, then cold as it got down to my left foot- which didn't actually need any more wet and cold.

    I saw Steve Surprise coming back from the turn around, and he had maybe seven minutes on me. He was berating a group of people I was passing from across the road for drafting. I laughed and tried my best to do some math. I didn't think I could make that up in a single loop, but it did invigorate me a little bit. I worked through the turn, starting now to dump water on my head and chest (but careful to keep it away from my feet) to keep my core body temperature from elevating.

    I was eating every half an hour. My nose was also running and I was frequently blowing it- the sinus infection was making its presence felt.

    As soon as we'd crested the hill at the turn around, the effect of the tailwind and the downhill combined. I hit 36 miles per hour- this is supposed to be a flat course, right ? Let me tell you I've never hit 36 mph in two races at Ironman Florida. This is not that flat a course.

    The ride back was fast until we got off the reservation. Once you made the right at the gas station things slowed down a bit as you were riding into the cross-wind.

    My feet were starting to wake up but my right side was sore because I was using my hip to do the work that my leg was supposed to be using. There was already salt on my legs- I was taking endurolytes every half an hour as well. I just kept grinding out the first lap and before I knew it, I was looping back out.

    I saw Ian and Margit as I headed back out on the second loop. They were cheering me on, but I knew Margit could do the math and would know I was not in a great position at this point.

    Eric really pushed the idea in the pre-race meeting of not pushing too hard on the bike. 'You should feel a little bit guilty', Eric said. 'Like it's a training ride.' I tried my best to stick within that, while also working on moving up.

    That's the hardest part of the bike for me- moving up. I'm dead serious about not drafting. Because I come out of the water so far in arrears, I am faced with the frequent need to pass people. That requires a little more work in some cases than I'd like to do. Over 112 miles, there's a lot of situation where I have to get out of my rhythm to stay within the rules.

    It was also clear on the second loop that continuing to eat was going to be a challenge. I had the bike computer as my only clock to keep track of the thirty minute intervals. I was basically keeping a package of something open at all times and eating one at a time (block or rock). That was helping quite a bit, but I realised I was drinking a lot of water- almost as much water as gatorade. You go with what you can stomach. I noticed my speed dropping to around 18 mph going out on that second loop- the wind was still in our face and I was trying to just stay aero. My feet and legs were warming up and I was getting some heel drop extension.

    I knew my leg would hurt on the run...

    The bike computer has some kind of issue with the right control button- likely gatorade has been spilled on it. The button sticks sometimes, including during the race. The computer started switching- at random intervals- from one function to the next. Sometimes it was cadence. Then trip distance. Then speed and average speed. Speed and max speed. Cadence usually came up when I was going uphill into the wind...

    Steve maintained most of his lead over me during the second loop- he went by me going back from the out and back after losing only about a minute. I got to the turn, babied my way around the cone, and picked out 'tall guy' for my water. As in 'You, the tall guy' and a point. I like to identify the volunteer early- I've seen too many feed zone crashes...

    I hauled some ass on the second loop back as the wind was at my back again. I missed one bottle exchange and I was still struggling to eat everything, but getting it down, along with endurolytes.

    I was still sore. My hip was complaining about the extra work I was giving it because of my right calf and then my groin was starting to hurt as well.

    I could tell on the ride back into Tempe though, that the wind was shifting. This was bad news. I had an idea that it would be at our back on the way out on the third loop, which was not a good thing. I'd done this last time in Arizona- fought the wind coming back on that third loop and gotten off the bike fried.

    The ride back in was uneventful. I was still moving up but of course, not passing as many people and there was some jockeying- I'd pass someone who'd pass me back or visa versa, and I was starting to get close to some packs.

    I went around the loop back in Tempe and was out for the third loop. I was almost glad I didn't see Ian and Margit again. It can be very emotional, seeing your family like that, especially when you're maybe letting them down. I needed to concentrate, find my centre and get something done out there.

    I almost didn't finish the race and concentration was what saved me.

    I was early on in the third loop when I took a right hand turn. I was aggressive in the turns all day because I was seeing a lot of grandma riding in the turns. I went wide, then settled in. The guy in front of me was going maybe two miles an hour slower and I was just thinking of starting my pass when-

    He stopped. There were five porta-potties on the side of the road and the guy decided to just, well, stop. In the fraking road. Not pull off, not give a hand signal. Just stop.

    You reaction time ? You've spent an hour and twenty minutes in 61 degree water. You've been riding about four hours and ten minutes. You were up with a fever the night before.

    You swerve.

    Somehow I made the move I needed to make.

    Later, as I was peeing (#4), a guy came up to me and said 'That was a sweet move back at the bathroom. I closed my eyes.' He was sure we were abut to have a three bike (or more) pile-up.

    The third loop was the one where I did have an issue with groups drafting. Once on the way out and twice more on the way back I would find myself dropping to let an entire drafting group go by and then accelerating to around 28 mph to pass the whole group. I never hit thirty on any of these accelerations- I didn't have that left in me.

    I'd gone through the turn around far enough behind Steve that I knew I wasn't catching him. And as I'd expected, the wind was in my face on the way back- no 30 mph speeds, more like high 20s. After the second acceleration and before the third I caught the eye of one of the officials and he gave me a nod and a smile.

    An idea formed.

    The next time the pack attacked me, I went with a quick counter and went much harder than the other two. I splintered the group, drew a few people in and next thing I knew, the motorcycle pulled up and the guy behind me was headed for the penalty tent

    Sweet justice !

    I rode back into Tempe somewhat exhilarated, but my right calf was still sore and I knew one thing.

    It was going to be a long run.

    This Weekend Warrior Report is contributed by Alan MacDougal http://rochpunk.blogspot.com/
    Follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/cyberdyne
  • Weekend Warrior Report-Ironman Arizona

    Ironman Arizona-Pre Race and the Swim

    I'm a big proponent of a good night's sleep the night before the Ironman.

    I am not a big proponent of lying in a pool of my own sweat, nose running, unable to sleep for two hours.

    After swimming in Tempe Town Lake Thursday and Friday I'd noticed some nasal congestion, but mostly when I got up. It was serious enough that I was considering skipping the Saturday swim. But the need to get that open water feel and also weather the cold one more time trumped worries about the bacteria in the lake.

    Unable to sleep, sweating, nose plugged I would have liked to had that decision back.

    I did get about three hours of solid sleep.

    I was up by 4:45 am. I ran for ten minutes with Steve Surprise, ate breakfast- two bananas and some coffee, plus a few handfuls of Fruit Loops, then Steve and I took the shuttle from the hotel to the race. It was dark and a lot colder than when I did the race in April.

    Steve and I stayed together for a while, then he went his way and I went to the bathroom. This gave me a chance to catch up on some decent music, read a few tweets, and an article about Apple bringing flash to the iPhone, get body marked. Then it was back to the bathroom, with time to drink a Red Bull, down a Gu, and get my wetsuit on.

    Being on the small side it's easy for me to worm my way through a crowd, squeeze under railings, and get to the water. But when I got to the canal wall, my desire to get in the water was minimal. They were encouraging us to do just that, jump in, get it over with, as we'd have to do it anyway. But I knew every minute in the water would only make the swim harder.

    Finally, I jumped in around 6:50, and started swimming to the start. The water was every bit as cold as I'd remembered and my hands and feet immediately started to suffer. I tried getting up on the wall of the canal but that didn't help.

    Eric had told us to get to the middle if possible, but I couldn't. I was on the outside with no way in because we were all treading water and even out near the wall, just a few rows back from the buoy, I was having trouble finding somewhere to tread water where no one would kick me.

    I don't get it. Why do people in the water think it's okay to kick you. Sure, everyone is trying to do the same thing, but I wasn't kicking anyone...

    That's just how it is. Finally, the mayor of Tempe gave a few inspirational words- the guy is part comedian, part motivational speaker. Then we had the national anthem.

    Then the cannon went off.

    All the people still standing on the wall jumped in and we all started swimming.

    At first, it was not bad. I was finding water with my numbing hands and feet. For the the first three minutes I was swimming mostly head down, not having too much trouble.

    Then it got to be too tight, too close. I was unable to keep my head down without risking being constantly kicked. As soon as I get my head up like that, my breathing goes south and I start hyperventilating, which makes it impossible for me to get my head down, which...

    Eric Hodska, my coach, had said if you were having trouble to just go stand on the wall.

    This saved my race. I swam over to the wall. I climbed up on it, adjusted my googles and walked a little bit. Hey, it's a race. Keep moving forward, right ?

    About fifteen seconds later, I jumped back in. I had clear water. I started to swim and had no problems until the turn-around.

    Meanwhile, my feet were getting really numb. My calves were twinging because my achilles tendons were completely contracted. I was worried. I worked my ankles and toes as much as possible but I knew my calves were in danger of massive cramps..

    Because of the shape of the course and the fact that I was on the outside of the pack, some buoys were close and some were far away. I kept trying to work inside but the same two or three guys kept getting in my way or hitting me every time I tried to make a move.

    The swim out to the far buoy in a one loop swim is forever.

    Finally, I got there. People were cheering when they hit the turn around. This really pissed me off. Stop cheering and keep swimming. The people who swim at my ability in the Ironman seem to always slow down and gather themselves at the buoy, which makes this the most dangerous part of the course and also pisses me off. Why can't they just keep swimming. The increased congestion leads to a lot of unnecessary contact and-

    Sure enough, I got knocked around and my right calf cramped. It exploded in pain. I kept swimming. What else could I do.

    It was a terrible cramp, lasting about three minutes. Then finally it eased. An unbelievable sense of calm like I have never felt in an ironman swim came over me when the cramp eased. I have literally never been so at ease during a swim.

    Then the calf cramped again.

    I also felt a series of twinges in the left calf. I fought to stay clear of anyone and it passed.

    The swim back was a confusing mix. I was just yards away from some buoys, I was at fifty yards away from others. There were people everywhere, although I seemed to be keeping pace with a group.

    We finally went under the bridges and then around the last buoy.

    The swim in from the last buoy was epic- long, difficult, confusing. I seemed to be on everyone's right.

    Then suddenly I was on the stairs, hauling myself out. I could not walk, I could only limp. I had to take my wetsuit off standing up. The volunteers didn't like this but if I'd laid down and they'd pulled on the leg of my wetsuit the calf would have erupted.

    I stumbled on wet feet to the bike to run bags. No one could find mine so I did it myself, then I changed outside the tent where it was light and I could see what I was doing. I slipped my cycling jersey (the pockets loaded with food and electrolytes) on, put on my helmet and sunglasses but forgot my gloves.

    I was angry and upset and wasn't sure if I wanted to scream or cry. Another 1:20 + swim. Frozen feet. A seriously injured leg. I'd been here before.

    I found the will to run to my bike, then run out of transition with it. While people started trying to mount their bikes standing still, on an uphill, an inch over the mount line, I ran. And ran. More than 100 yards, out onto the street. Then I mounted near the turn and started pedaling. Neither foot was clipped in but I didn't care.

    I was on my way.

    Behind where I needed to be. Sore. Cold.

    And my nose was running...

    None of that mattered now. Now I could ride.

    This Weekend Warrior Report is contributed by Alan MacDougal http://rochpunk.blogspot.com/
    Follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/cyberdyne
  • Weekend Warrior Report

    How cold is too cold, or Tempe Town Lake equals Brrr....

    I look back now on my last ride in Connecticut, a three hour misery-fest in 50 degrees and rain and suddenly, it seems like great training for the Ironman Arizona...

    ...swim.

    Yes, that's right. With the water now officially at 63- and I'm betting on 62 on race day, there's no question the water is cold. And it's not a cold, but just a little for the first five minutes. It's just plain clod. And that's something as an athlete that you have to be willing to deal with on race day.

    The water is not going to magically get warmer. Your hands and feet are going to get cold. Two swim caps might be a good idea. But you can't get in and try to take it easy either. It's not like a training ride on the bike where it's cold so you keep the pace mellow. You have to go as hard as you can and keep your head down.

    That's the one thing I'm really going to have to work on- keeping my head down. With the cold, my calves will want to cramp, but with the muscles tight, lifting my head up and arching my back is the best way to make that happen. No, it's all about keeping my head down, staying focused on moving buoy to buoy and not letting the fact that the water is cold and murky make me unhappy.

    It's not the swim I'd like to have.

    But it is the swim I'm going to have. So I'll take it, and like every Ironman one of the happiest moments will be when I get out of the water and the swim is over...

    This Weekend Warrior Report is contributed by Alan MacDougal http://rochpunk.blogspot.com/
    Follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/cyberdyne
  • Weekend Warrior Report

    Arizona in November

    At 7 AM this morning, two days before race day, the temperature is 48 degrees.

    By any standard, this is cold for the start of the race. Add that the temperature of the water is only 64 degrees and you start to wonder what your thinking was that you were going to be racing in the heat.

    I don't like cold water. I did Muskoka one year- June in Ontario. The stated water temperature was 54 degrees and this was, if canadians are capable of such things, a lie. I was disoriented when I exited the water.

    This is nowhere near that bad, but swimming without a wetsuit yesterday, I wasn't too happy.

    Of course, the truth is there will be 'heat', which is to say that it will get up into the mid-to-upper seventies during the bike and the run. And with the stronger sun here, it will get hot. I certainly was sweating in the middle of the day while I was standing around waiting for my bike, which TriBike Transport did a great job getting here.

    Overall the village was very well organized and if everyone had not wanted to check in at the athlete registration at 10AM yesterday, which is no fault of the venue, things would have been perfect.

    But the four hours I spent at the village waiting for one thing or another did make it clear- it will be hot. Just not in the water or at the beginning of the bike...

    PS- the race does not climb that hill. It's just a cool hill. Maybe I'd place better if we did climb it

    This Weekend Warrior Report is contributed by Alan MacDougal http://rochpunk.blogspot.com/
    Follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/cyberdyne
  • 30 Days of Awesome - Day 12

    Housekeeping Items - The response to the 30 Days Campaign has been overwhelming and once again we want thank you all for taking the time to read, comment and write your own blogs.

    We are still giving away Free Vitalyte to the best blog of the day so keep em coming.

    If you haven't had a chance to check out Kellie MacMullan's blog from the KWGN News Channel, I highly encourage you to do so. Lots of great of stuff in there. It's available in an RSS Feed from Vitalyte's website.

    Vitalyte is also running our "Weekend Warrior" campaign. With lifestyles being as hectic as they are, sometimes the weekends are really the only opportunity to get in some fun. We at Vitalyte would love to hear about it. Whether you are a top rated triathlete competing, an adrenalin junkie like me looking for something crazy to do, or a family spending an afternoon at the [ark, we want to hear about. The goal of Vitalyte is to inspire everyone to take advantage of all the opportunities that lie away from the T.V. Remember, great prizes in store for the best stories.

    Some days the weather just doesn't corporate, but that doesn't mean awesome has to take place outside. Of course, as I get nearer to leaving for Lake Powell for a good friends 30th b-day, I wish the weather would be a little bit more cooperative as I try to get in as many lake days as possible perfecting some of this summer's tricks. Soon it will be time to hang up the wake board and tune the snow skis. Of course that brings a whole different kind of awesome.

    Speaking of, I want to congratulate Tami for passing her open water dive test last night. Hopefully she will soon be exploring the majesty of the great blue with me soon.

    Anyway, in lieu of the ability to go to the lake and with the days training session in prep for the Muddy Buddy completed, I figured it was time to bring awesome to the kitchen.

    Growing up in the kitchen of my families Italian Restaurant, I got to watch my grandmother do things with food that I'm sure no will ever be able to do ever. The woman was a magician in the kitchen, taking the most simple of recipes and turning them into the things of legend. I learned a lot from her and although I will never be able to match her skill in the kitchen, every now and then I come up with something worth bragging about. Last night it was Pizza.

    My grandmother was famous for her pizza and would she have been with me last night, I'm sure I would have got that subtle but approving smile from the master for my work in the kitchen. Of course, had she have been there, I wouldn't have been stuck doing the dishes alone. Oh well, small price to pay. The pizza was awesome and I was able to get some shots of the weird storm system moving along the front range.

    As the night wore on the system moved through the sky turned all sorts of funky colors. It was really a cool thing to watch as I enjoyed my pizza and a glass of Shiraz.

    I don't issue challenges or advice very often but I will today. If your parents or grandparents are around, pick up the phone just to say hi. It gets easy to forget about the people in your life amidst the hustle and bustle, but simply taking the time to pick up the phone and spend a couple of minutes with someone is such a valuable gift.

    Have a great day.

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