Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Recovery and Life

It's amazing how much things can fall behind when focusing on Ironman and having a vacation. Work has been incredibly busy since I have gotten back and my feet finally after two weeks fit into shoes again. I ended up losing a couple of toenails and the right foot's toebox was a mess. I got in a short swim last Saturday and I think I will get a run in today.

I am pretty sure I won't do an Ironman this next year - well if I go sub 4:40 at Sylvan I probably will because that means I have a shot at Kona. The bike continues to be my weak link given that I was 700+ in placement on the bike with a 440 place swim and a 310 place run. In fact another 13 minutes on the run (which I know is doable) I would have been 180 ish place. My preliminary race plans for next year include a real attempt at a career best 10K and a push to race a faster half-ironman maybe going after a 70.3 World Championship Qualification.

The schedule

March - Moonlight 10K
April - Yakima Marathon
April - Medicine Hat 5K
May - Banff Calgary Relay
June - Foothills Academy 10K
June - Wasa Lake 1/2 Ironman
July - Magrath Olympic Distance Tri
July - Sylvan Lake 1/2 Ironman
August - Whirlpool 1/2 Ironman
August - Fort Macleod Olympic Distance Tri
Sept - Sheep River 10K
Sept - Harvest 1/2 Marathon
Nov - Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater ???

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Swamps, gators and the drive back

Sadly our trip is winding down. While we do miss the family and are looking forward to see them all again it is also going to be sad to leave these warm climates and return to cold, snow and winter conditions.

Yesterday we had a great time on the air-boat tour. They took us out for over an hour and he kept searching until we found some alligators. The swamp and ride was very cool and exactly what I was looking forward to. We saw birds, crabs, a young gator and ended up going under the biggest hill on the IM course which was a bridge over the bay.

After the tour we drove back through the panhandle of Florida and then Alabama before staying in Biloxi, Mississippi. During the drive I had to elevate my right foot as its swelling fairly severely from blisters on three toes. I am doing my best to save the toenails but its pretty bad right now. The flight home could be interesting if I can't elevate.

This morning Melanie is enjoying a final sleep in and we will make the last 90 minute or so drive back to New Orleans for the afternoon flight back home via Denver.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The day after the day after the race

Many people experience more soreness 2 days after the race than the day after and that sure is applying to me today. It is not so much the legs - the calves are tight and the quads a bit stiff but it is the two blisters on my feet that are causing the most awkwardness. Today we are doing some laundry and then checking out of the hotel in Panama City Beach. We plan to take a swamp airboat trip if they are open and then start the drive back towards New Orleans. We will find a nice place somewhere on route to stay and then drive the rest tomorrow checking out sites as we go.

Yesterday they announced that Ironman Florida 08 filled up online in 7 minutes. This could make it interesting for Melanie to get in the race in 2009 if it goes the way it looks and fills up onsite at the 2008 race and so she may have to switch back to Ironman New Zealand as her debut race. I can handle a trip to NZ as a result.

It's always interesting to see how you feel about your race a couple of days later - this one was very much like my race at Yakima this year. I am very satisfied with my performance and don't think that I could have done much to have had a better race given my preparation. I certainly know I had help at key points in the race from the support of friends, co-workers and family - thanks everyone for your good thoughts and well wishes.

Overall its been a great year getting career best times at the marathon, half-ironman and ironman races. Especially since I turned 40 this last May. I will take a couple of days to contemplate my focus for next year. I decided that unless I race under 4:40 for a half-ironman I have no intention to attempt another Kona shot in 2008.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Patience and Nutrition - by Richard

The stage
So the journey that started about 365 days ago has come to its conclusion and a new journey begins. Before I get caught up in the new things here is a summary of the race experience.

Pre-race worries and Body Marking
Wow. I feel really blessed as I woke up with a very sore throat and was really apprehensive, I even debated whether or not I should be racing but I figured at the very least I could enjoy a really good swim - plus a nice salt water rinse might help the throat feel better, and it did.

In transition this morning I had the body markers do me a favor and put two extra markings on me - P on my left arm and N on my right - which stood for patience and nutrition. It was my mental mantra of the day. Whenever I started to have the HR rise or want to race someone and not let them go I reminded myself of patience and I also used the N to stick to my nutrition game plan. I knew that I needed that to work if I wanted a solid IM time.

Melanie bid me farewell after I finished in transition and I went and got myself into position after dropping off my glasses at the station. The gun went and by halfway through the first lap I was feeling much better in the throat and was really happy with my chosen position. I started very far to the right of the field, almost 150 m away from the line of markers out to the first turn and was cutting clear water or drafting off another stronger swimmer doing the same thing. Later I found out that the current was moving right to left and the angle I took was the fastest line to the first turn. After the first turn I stayed on the seaward side and mostly out of traffic and then coming back stayed as tight to the markers as I could and noticed many swimmers drifting further away. When it came time to exit the water I could hear the announcer talking about this group being the last ones on track to go under an hour and I saw my split at 30:30. The best part was I was extremely relaxed and rested. I decided to ease off even more and didn't have much traffic as I went around the second time. The second loop was slower because of the beach run portion plus I didn't have the current working for me due to the angle we went. Result was a 33:30 second loop and I exited the water well ahead of plan.

Swim to Bike Transition
I decided to take advantage of the extra time and took a good shower rinse to get as much salt water off me as possible, retrieved my glasses and found my way through transition. It was the usual busy tent and seemed slow but with all things consider I was through T1 in 5:30.

Once out on the bike I really relaxed and rode at 130 or under heart rate for the first 30 km and watched a lot of people go by me (overall on the bike about 216 passed me) but I knew it was going to be a long day. I also was pleasantly surprised that I was averaging over my targeted 31.5 km/hr and under 132 HR. I had a brief moment where I started doing some mental math to determine how fast I needed to go to beat Bernie's time of 5:27 a few years ago and decided I should exercise caution and held back.

By mid way through the bike my neck was pretty sore and I wished that I had done a better job preparing for hours in profile position. I got in the bike time on the trainer but I sat up for far too much in training and I suffered a bit as a result today. I rode the handlebars whenever we were not in head wind and stayed in disciplined profile when I was cutting the wind. The cheaters were out there in force drafting like Tour de France pelotons but I got satisfaction later by running them down. Like me, another contestant, Mary Eggers watched the peloton trains go by frequently. We avoided the drafting and for the most part passed many of the pelotons back. She and I exchanged places a few times and one of the last times she said "we will just need to run them down". I wasn't so sure how many we could run down after working harder in the wind on the bike. I finished the bike in 5:40. Average HR of 132 to 134 as I wanted.

Bike to Run Transition
T2 was a little slow as I knew that I needed to regroup. I was uncomfortable and I changed both shorts and shirt (I almost never do the shirt) and took a salt tab. I kicked myself later for not taking more and I also kicked myself for not getting all of the sand off my feet - that proved to be a distraction for sure. Out of transition two in 4:00 and I saw the clock at 6:54. Some quick math and I knew that a 4:06 marathon would get me sub 11, a 4:02 would net me a one hour PR and a 3:58 beating Bernie's best time. Based on the way I felt I thought there is no way I will get 10:44.

Off on the run and my heart rate immediately was over my 143 max target - I kept slowing more and more to near plod and could barely keep it under. I passed Melanie a mile into the run and she asked how I was - the answer - a grunt and comment about it being a long run. Time to do some damage control, I new I needed nutrition and fast so I promised myself that at aid station three I would not only get ice to keep me cool but as per my plan of 1 gel and 1 Gatorade every three miles I would pick back up. I passed my friend Mary in the run again and we said hi and she commented on how were still needed to run the peloton people down. I walked through that third mile aid station and took my time downing the gel and drinking and what a difference that made. I decided that I was sick of hearing the beeps of the alarm and shut them off and at that point ran by feel and kept telling myself to be patient. The result - first 5K 27:32 and second 25:51 - I was feeling better and running better. Every third aid station refueling and walking and then back on track.
Video of my run at about mile 9

The return trip from lap 1 was mostly headwind so I was working harder now up to 150's in heart rate and ran 26:25 for 10 to 15 and then 25:35 from 15 to 20. My left calf started to spasm and I new I needed more salt tabs - I stopped sweating again and had to get myself back on track so at the turn I begged some salt tabs and downed them dry - Yuck - until I could wash them down at the first aid station. That fifth 5k segment was nice with the tailwind though but with the extra delays I was 26:20 and now it was getting really tough. I started refueling every second station and by 16 miles my heart rate was over 160 and I k new I needed a walk break to bring it down. I did an Alex Wenzel power walk at 8 km/hr pace and was passing people jogging their first lap. By mile 17 I had recouped enough that I promised myself to run to the turnaround area. I was doing the math and at that point realized that I could almost walk to a sub 11 hour day but I knew to beat Bernie I needed to run at least 6 of the last nine miles.
My next walk break was from 19.1 to 19.8 miles and then I ran to 21 before we came out to the streets and were exposed to the headwind that was getting stiffer. I was still moving up through the masses but I was working really hard. I walked mile 21 to 22 and decided that I needed to run at least 3 of the last 4 miles. It was at this point Jennifer Cooper and I introduced ourselves as we had exchanged spots about 5 times over the last 7 miles when I was walking she would pass me and when I was running I would pass her. She was on her first lap but was willing to help me pace through the last miles. So miles 22 to 24.5 went by not too bad, only stopping to refuel at aid stations and then back running. But at 24.5 I was back over 160 heart rate and I needed a real walk break which I took to mile 25. I then gritted through the last mile with two more brief 250m walks and persevered in for a marathon split of 3:54 and a final time of 10:48. In the end I ran down 254 people and finished 404.
Final Notes
Interestingly enough my two friends I made on the course Mary and Jennifer both had excellent runs 4:03 and 4:13 and finished just under 11 and 13 hours by a minute or so. Not only were they good people but they got good karma back and finished great.

It was an hour and 8 minute best time and while Bernie's 10:52 at Ironman Canada is more impressive due to course difficulty at least I have given Bernie a new goal to go after.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Night Before IM Florida - by Richard

Well, dinner is done, all bags prepped and two alarms set. Plan is to watch an episode of x-files on the computer and then the final fitful attempt at sleep. I actually expect to sleep well - sort of - as I am still focused on getting healthy. Mel's plans in the morning include tolerating a hyper-sensitive nervous husband while he tries to stay as stress free as possible.

Time to go on record with my final race predictions. Mel wanted these so she would know when to look for me on the course. Given the wind is supposed to be calming down and the weather conditions near ideal I can only hope that the sore throat is more nerves than illness.

Swim Lap 1: 33:40 I expect some packed conditions and plan to swim wide through the majority of the first loop to stay relaxed. I think it will result in a better swim even if I don't have anyone to draft off.

Swim Lap 2: 35:50 I expect most of of the people to be fading and with the beach run around the buoy an extra minute or so on lap two.

Total Swim Time: 69:30

T1: Looking at a pretty large transition zone but I got prime bag AND bike placement so its about 3:30 running through the zone and then another 2:00 in the tent. 5:30 total T1

Net time out of T1 at 1:15

Bike: This course is flat, even today riding at 120 HR I was easily riding 31.5 km/hr average in a crosswind. I hold that pace at 128-133 HR and I get a 5:43 ride.

T2: Again bag placement is great, a 1:30 run through the zone and my typical 1:30 change in T2 and I get 3:00

Net time for Bike and T2 is 5:46

Net time going on the run is now 7:01

Run course: This is the course I dream of - flat asphalt and double out and back with lots of sighting on people to use as targets. Health pending I think I can run this in 3:43 with the 4 quarters at 53, 55, 57, 58

Total on day 10:44 as Bernie predicted.

The morning before by Richard

I continue to try and rest and get healthy and shake this cold / sore throat. The aches are all gone except for some tonsillitis and my sinuses are finally clear. Yesterday afternoon I did a short swim (~500 m) and the water is gorgeous. Despite the tropical storm Noel going north up the other side of Florida the conditions have been good. Morning has seen some wind but nothing worse than what we see on a regular training day in Calgary on the usual 22X route to Kananaskis. The surf is really quite calm and even without a wetsuit the buoyancy is great.

This morning after about 10 hrs sleep I grabbed a quick continental breakfast and drove to the Gatorade swim practice - not to swim just to grab my free water bottle plus a Gatorade - I needed one to prep my ultra hammer gel / Gatorade mixture. Mel had a quiet start of the morning as a result.

The police have been out in full force with all of the cyclists around. Last night at the dinner they warned everyone that if you "relieve" yourself outside a port-a-pottie they will take you to jail. Apparently there were some issues last year and a lawyer's kids were exposed to someone taking the quick whiz. So they are cracking down.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

T Minus 2 days to Ironman Florida - by Melanie

Today we went to the Ironman Expo where Richard picked up his race package, and we browsed all the booths trying to flog their wares.

After finishing that Richard came back to the hotel and organized all his stuff while I went down to the beach, lay in the sun, and swam.

Note that Richard took a picture of me from the balcony way far
away. Of course there are not a lot of people here because it is off season. It is kind of funny watching the few people there are at the beach tip toe down to the water and slowly wade in an inch at a time. The water here is as warm as any lake ever gets in Alberta
during the middle of July. So Richard and I walk down to the water dive in and just start swimming. It is absolutely beautiful, clear and blue.

I have to admit, it was nice to sit at the beach and not have to patrol the water for kids trying to drown each other. I could actually close my eyes and absorb the sun rays and listen to the water, not someone screaming, Mom, MOM...she grabbed my goggles.
Soon we will head of to the Ironman pre-race meal and pow wow. Everyone will be swapping their most horrific Ironman ordeal and showing off their Ironman calves in their cool Nike shorts. Today we got a glimpse of those who couldn't stand not spinning their cool looking bikes down the main drag. Anyways, it should be fun... perhaps we will even spot a few of the pros.