Monday, May 16, 2011

Light week of workouts for post Ironman recovery

My plan this week is fairly simple. Relatively easy bike commutes to and from work with easy lunch swim, water run or weights with a longer workout on Saturday. Lunch today was a 2000m swim, my standard 500m technical warm up and cool down with 10 x 100m main set using pull buoy and paddles on a 1:45 cycle and averaging about 1:27 per 100m. Bike was an average 35 to 40 minute commute to, and then again, from work.

Trying to start focusing on more sleep so after an evening with the family headed for bed before 10:00 and some reading and a quick blog entry so I can be up fresh at 6:00 am. Regardless of my racing plans this feels like a good schedule, perhaps even getting to bed 30 minutes earlier would be good.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

One Week after IMSG

It's been a week since Ironman St George. And it has been a tough week. I had focused so much on the race and while having a pretty good race given the heat it has left me feeling somewhat incomplete and also feeling goal less. After seeing the aerial photos of the race I realize that by swimming the shoreline at St George I added a significant bit of extra distance to the race and that would explain at least 4-5 minutes of my extra time.

My recovery has / is going well as I was hardly sore at all after the race given that I did not go very hard on the run at all from a muscle standpoint. By Monday morning I was doing stairs with luggage without a problem and really the main discomfort was sunburn on the shoulders and back of hands. Using the compression tights most of Sunday and Monday I am sure helped me out a lot.

We made the drive back from St George Monday and Tuesday and I was back working Wednesday. On Thursday night I did a 500m jog and realized the knee was a bit tender so went back to the house and switched to my mountain bike for a very short (15 minute ride). Friday I did a 2km swim workout (500m technical, 1100m moderate interval set, 400m technical).

By the time I got to Friday night I was now seriously considering the Chinook 1/2 Ironman in mid/late June which is Provincial Championships. Time for some serious reflection on what training I should do over the next 5 weeks.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Full Race Report - Ironman St George - No excuses, no regrets

Anyone that knows me even a little bit knows I love to talk about my races. I will try to get all the detail here so I can share the short version in person and if someone really wants to know they can check here for all the gory details.

From my short race report you know that I didn't qualify for Kona, sad, but I am still happy with the day. First order of business is my lists of thanks.

First, my thanks to God for the strength and ability to have trained as much as I had done with all my other duties as well as for the help on race day. It could have been a catastrophic day and I know the prayers and well wishes of everyone was heard as I was able to get through a really tough situation.

Second, my thanks to my family, it was absolutely thrilling to have my children all there to see me to do an Ironman, as well as my mom and Brien. They had seen other races but not Ironman and I loved having them all there to cheer me on. I also am grateful to Ken for his letter he gave me before I left Calgary. It meant a ton and his advice was really helpful for me on race day.

Third, thanks to my friends and colleagues for their support as I focused and trained for this race, and tolerating my near obsessive focus on Ironman. Without your support it would not have been possible and also in particular my boss, Lee.

Finally, thanks to my wife, Melanie who allowed me to gear up properly and shouldered a much larger burden at home while I trained and being willing to sacrifice the family funds for my preparation and for getting to St George. She knows what it takes for Ironman and she was there for me. Much love.

PS. Thanks to anyone else that I have missed that supported me along the way.

Ok now for the full report. No excuses and No regrets. Given what happened during the day I am totally at peace with how I trained, prepped and raced yesterday. Race morning preparations went off perfectly, I had a good 6 hour sleep and was quite ready the morning of the race, got in the water and did a warm-up and was really optimistic.

Swim started a little off as I went and made a last minute tweak to my goggles and ended up getting them partially on the outside of the cap so the first few hundred meters I needed to adjust them for leaking but I was able to realize what had happened and got it fixed. I thought the swim was going well, I was working it harder than I expected and was pretty satisfied with my pace until I got out and saw the clock. 1:09:42, I was in shock and disbelief as it was my slowest swim at Ironman ever, and well back of what I am capable of. Others around me were all on pace and Bernie was at 1:01 and change. I knew at that moment Kona was a really long shot giving up 8 minutes on my competitors and decided I just needed to keep to my race plan and see how the day panned out.

Transition 1 Swim-to-Bike was better than usual but I had planned it out well, except a needed bathroom break, not usual, and losing a sock from my bag. Kudos to the volunteer near me who offered up his sock so I could get going on the bike, talk about great help. As I got up we saw the other sock behind the chair so I quickly switched back. Even with all that I managed an under 6 minute transition, so was now 10 minutes off pace.

The bike started really well, I was patient and dialed back my heart rate pretty fast to where I needed it to be. I then started getting fluids and gu chew blocks in me for energy. Over the course of the bike leg I averaged about 3/4 a bottle an hour of fluids and 300 calories from gels etc. Bike heart rate by 30 km segments was 130, 130, 137, 124, 130, 138 and 129. The two spikes were the hills from Gunlock, the wall and out of Veyo up the hill. I was completely ok with that and I was willing to ride the top end of my range to keep a pace close to my goal. Passed my good friend Bernie mid way through the second loop just before the big climbs started. The descents into St George were very windy with head wind and cross wind and really buffeted me around. The arm coolers worked very well as I would continually get water on them to keep my temperature down. It was very very hot out there.

For me the real surprise was how many people I passed on the bike, usually on the bike I lose a LOT of places and all my training on the bike paid off as I moved up the field. Overall average of 30.8 km per hour for a 5:50 split. However, another 8 minutes off the pace I needed and I knew Kona was now officially out so just be smart.

Transition 2 Bike to Run went better than T1, another bathroom break (plus one I did on the bike so you could tell I had worked to keep my hydration up) and I was out pretty quick, left my sunglasses in T2 but that didn`t cost me too much. Under 4 minutes which was pretty good I thought.

Then the run, I started the run and legs felt fine but I realized how hot it had become. I shuffled along and couldn`t get the heart rate down and run at any sort of pace. Watched everyone flying by me on the run as I just plodded to keep from a blow up, which later I realized was inevitable. 10 minute mile paces through the heat and hills and the hottest part of the day where it was 33 C (92 ish F) at the finish line but hotter up on the bluffs on the course. On the way out the run I saw Bernie when I was about a mile and a half out and he was returning on the bike. It looked like I had about a 20 minute lead on him.

I ran and drank and used sponges at every station doing everything I could to stay hydrated and cool but it was a losing battle as I couldn`t get enough in. Ice in the cap, cold sponges in the trisuit, I was executing the perfect heat management routine but it wasn`t enough, and salt tabs periodically to help there as well. On the way back from the first turn I saw Bernie again and guestimated my lead to have gone up to about 22 minutes but I knew I was in trouble overall and on pace for about a 4:13 marathon. By 10 miles I realized the heart rate was mid to high 140s on average (almost 10 beats over what it should be off the bike for Ironman pace) and it was now spiking to 160, 170 and over 180. Not good so I decided I better watch health over racing hard since Kona was no longer on the line. I walked very briskly from mile 10 to mile 16, getting more water in me, completely soaking arm coolers, compression socks, trisuit to try and recover, but even walking I was 120 to 180 heart rate.

On the way out my second loop I saw Bernie coming in and he was now only about 9 minutes behind me, 13 minutes gained over 6 miles, I figured he would catch me at about 16 miles and I hoped I would have recovered enough to run or jog with him and finish together. After cresting the hill at 16 miles and not seeing him I decided to run the downhills regardless of the heart rate since it wasn`t controlled anyways and then walk the up hills. I found new life and actually started to feel better as the temperature dropped a bit as the sun started to set and the wind picked up more to cool me. Still dehydrated I was keeping the same management plan in place and returning back on the second loop I was surprised to see I now had a 30+ minute lead on Bernie. Cresting the hill on the way back I ran almost 100% of the final 4.5 miles and ended up with a faster second loop than first loop. Go figure. I had a hoot coming down main street and took my time to enjoy the finish. Final time 11:52, faster than IM Canada and IM California, slower than both Ironman Florida races.

Family were all there to greet me at the finish and cheer me in. My Ironman dream complete, just not quite how I expected. Given the cards I was dealt with I have no places where I can see what I would have done differently. Without knowing what happened on the swim I can`t fix that. An almost perfectly even bike ride at the right heart rate and managing the run the way I did I can`t think of any improvements.

The kids asked me if I would now start eating the off limits foods I had self imposed and if I would try to keep the same fitness levels. I thought a lot about that this morning as I lay in bed thinking about the race and the day and life. I have decided for now that I will probably not race anymore triathlons for a while until I feel the urge and if my knee fully recovers (by the way the knee held out great, used the knee brace for the second loop).

As for the no chocolate and no ice cream (plus other bad foods) thing I will celebrate the event with sharing an Oreo Blizzard from DQ with Aryana and while I might occasionally have some of the |banned| foods on a rare occasion I probably will mostly avoid them. For fitness I have come to really enjoy the bike and will use that as my main exercise and start commuting to and from work again by bike with a good ride on Saturdays and swim about 1 to 2 times a week to keep the swim shape up.

No excuses, No regrets!

St George Race Report (Short)

I will give a longer race report later but the short report is that I had a brutal swim and no idea why, I thought it was going well but came out and saw 1:09:45. Rode the bike to the planned heart rate and ended up 5:50 on the bike in hot and windy conditions and then on the run ran to heart rate but with the 33 C heat just couldn't keep the heart rate down. Marathon was 4:43. Still broke 12 hours on the toughest course in extremely tough conditions and had my best Ironman finish in placement ever (324 overall and 52 in age bracket).

I want to thank everyone for their support and well wishes and for all my family that came to watch or watched online.

Happy Mother's Day

Friday, May 6, 2011

Final Post before the Race

Greetings from a VERY hot St George Utah, anticipating 92-93F as a high on race day. I was hoping for a bit milder weather but it is what it is. If anyone is interested in following me along in the race I am racing bib number 1406 and you can enter it in the section for athlete tracking (upper right)

This race culminates a 9 month training stint of 530 hours and 1728 km running, 8156 km biking and 259 km swimming.

In order to qualify for world championships I will need to finish in the top 8 in my age bracket and somewhere around 10 hours and 30 minutes. My personal best is 10:48 at 1:04 swim, 5:42 bike and 3:54 run with 8 minutes of transition time. My goal is to go about 1:02 swim, 5:40 bike and 3:42 run with 6 minutes of transition time.


Ironman St George Bike Loop Video and Pictures

It was a little late but here is the video of Ironman St George Bike Course with some still pictures of the course.

Video of miles 0 to 18 on the bike

Miles 19 to 22 are already captured as part of the run course

Video of Miles 23 to about 53 of the bike course and since it is a loop this is also miles 67 through 97

Gunlock Reservoir

Just after the Veyo climb

Descending towards St George

IMSG Check-in and Athlete Dinner

It is starting to get very real now. Wednesday was a rest day and did some stretching to keep myself loose as well. Spent time at the pool teaching Gabby how to swim and then in the late morning the whole family went to the St George LDS Temple. It was quite peaceful and a good place to be before the race and stay calm and relaxed.

Aryana, Frances, Leah and I did check in registration late on Wednesday afternoon and still managed to get a free pair of Tyr swim goggles for being among the first 500 to check-in and also they did body marking early for anyone that wanted so I got that out of the way as well. I picked up some stuff I needed/wanted (compression socks, arm cooler sleeves and anti-fog spray for my goggles). I also picked up the Zipp 808 wheelset with the PowerTap Meter from Race Day Wheels so I can manage to the same wattage I have been training on the computrainer on. At the expo the three older kids made a pair of youtube greeting videos for Bernie and I.

For Richard

For Bernie

Got to bed a bit earlier and started shifting my body clock.

Thursday I got up at 5 am and had breakfast and later Frances and I did the run course video that I posted yesterday. Late morning all the kids came down to the expo and met with Bernie and I. They made the signs at the sign making station. Bernie got interviewed by Ironman Live. I picked up my last two needed pieces of equipment (anti eject water bottle cages and a xlab rear attachment for the CO2 cartridges that went missing. The kids did an updated video to include Gabby and Sierra

All Kids Video

After we got back everyone except me went to the outlet mall and I got the bike ready and numbered along with installing the new equipment and setting up the PowerTap display to the way I wanted.

Late afternoon I went for a test ride of 18km at mostly under IM heart rate pace with a tiny bit of tempo stints up Snow Canyon. No bottles ejected and everything seems solid. Arm coolers and compression socks also feel great. Tested the downhill speed with a bit of the cross winds. Everything seems race ready. Did a short 10 minute run off the bike, 5 minutes easy and 5 minutes at IM heart rate, looks good there as well.

Finished off the day by going to the IM welcome banquet/athletes meeting and Aryana wanted to come and I was glad to have her company. After we got back to the condo it was 9:00 and I was straight to bed for the very important two nights to go sleep.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ironman St George Run Course Video Preview

Finished off Tuesday with an early evening run with Bernie, Leah, Frances and Aryana. I was kind of sluggish as we jogged along the middle part of the run route and through Pioneer Park but after we finished the 4 km jog I decided to run up the hill as if I was heading back towards transition and did it at Ironman effort and it felt GREAT so after the 1 km up beat was over shut it down and left the rest for race day.

The official run course route information is here but I have added my personal preview of the run course below.

First off the course is incredible in my opinion. A relatively steep incline just a block out of transition as you climb main street for two blocks and then a soft grade up Diagonal St for roughly 1.5 miles. Turning right it then gets steeper as you go up Bluff St and then quite steep up after your right turn on Red Hills Parkway before a long slightly rolling climb above town. Absolutely stunning view up on top.

You start descending at about 4.5 miles and then a short loop in a hilly Pioneer Park. This section concerns me the most because it undulates so frequently I think it may be hard to have any sort of rhythm. After exiting Pioneer you turn left for a little while downhill to the turnaround and then come back the same way you went out including Pioneer Park. As you descend down bluff you take a small loop near the golf course and then return the same way you left transition. Rinse and repeat for a complete second loop.

Here is a 4X speed view of the run course by car. My personal copy of the video was put to the song 3's and 7's but due to copyright you get the one without the soundtrack.

My personal training regime for this course I think will work fabulously as I would train on the following treadmill stats

1 mile at 2%
1 mile at 3%
0.5 miles at 3.5%
0.5 miles at 4%
0.5 miles at 4.5%
3 miles at 0.5%
1.5 miles at 3%
5 miles at 0.5%

Repeat for second loop. As a result I didn't get the advantage of the downhills and was training my body to run hills. Saturday we find out how well it works out for me.

Tomorrow I will post the bike course preview.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Triathlon Wetsuit and Booties

For most people getting on the triathlon wetsuit is a less than graceful art. At Ironman St George about 4 days before the race a couple of us went to Sand Hollow to get a test swim in. Due to my usual cold extremities and the 62F water temperature I opted to wear aqua sock thermal booties as well.

A short clip of getting on the wetsuit. Notice the use of my jeans to prevent getting too much junk on my feet as I donned the booties and wetsuit. I will comment that it is a LOT easier to get the wetsuit on with booties over bare feet.

Once the booties are on then you can start donning the wetsuit, starting with the lower legs. My preference is to get the lowest part of the wetsuit past the heel and then shimmy up the lower leg a bit, finally with reaching on the inside of the wetsuit and pulling it up from there.

Once I have got that done I then pull it up from side to side until the crotch of the wetsuit is as high as possible and then work on the upper part of the wetsuit. Unfortunately I don't have any video of the rest of the process.

Ironman St George T1 location

Following the swim in the Sand Hollow Reservoir the Ironman St George T1 transition zone is in a very large and quite nice parking lot. In addition to the standard port-a-potties a number of full structure bathrooms are around the parking lot which usually serves as part of the Sand Hollow State Park. The view from just up from the water for the athletes will look something like this, plus a couple of thousand bikes in bike racks.

As you view this video you will move to the right area to get to your bike and then shift left out to the bike course which opens on a downhill grade and gets you some good initial speed.

Official Ironman St George Transition T1 map located here

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Four Days to Race Date

After arriving in St. George mid afternoon on Monday we checked in to our place at the Green Valley Resort. Everyone was happy to leave the snow behind us finally and see this type of vegetation.

For the record, Melanie rocked this booking. Place is a very spacious three bedroom that has a massive living room area with a hide-a-bed and kitchen, dinning, sitting area to top it off.

From our second floor suite we have a decent view of the central courtyard area.

Didn't do a whole lot after arriving except meeting up with Bernie and a drive over the run course. I will do a run course preview later this week. Got to bed a bit earlier than the last few nights and then up at about 6:45 am and met up again with Bernie for breakfast and then went for a swim at Sand Hollow. I will do a separate blog post with my swim course preview. Nice easy 1km swim and then a 25km ride during the afternoon at a easy pace with a few pick-ups on some hills. Spending the rest of the afternoon relaxing.

Ironman St George Swim Course Preview (Video/Photos)

Greetings from a very sunny St. George UT, home of the 2011 Ironman St George course. The next three days I will be doing special course preview blog entries. Today's blog will cover the Ironman St George swim course. The official race website on the swim course is here but I will give a few extra comments and thoughts.

One of my daughters came out with Bernie and I the Tuesday before the race and got a couple of pictures as we started suiting up.

Before Wetsuit

After Wetsuit

First impressions of this swim course in person is the water is average in terms of clarity. Visibility is pretty good for a couple of body lengths but get much beyond that and it starts to get tougher to see the feet in front of you. The lake bottom is visible just beyond standing depth or at about standing depth so if you cant see the bottom, you cant stand on it for sure but if you can see bottom its a maybe about standing. The path down to the water was gravel but the actual entry to the water was mostly sandy with a few rocks to navigate.

The chit chat at water's edge was about temperature which according to Utah State Parks was a balmy 62 degree F last week. I still wore the booties AND the thermal cap. My fingers were cold for the first 5-10 minutes but head was fine and feet a bit cold throughout. With the expected hot temperatures for the next few days it will warm up more but I am hoping for it to be 64.8 degrees come race day and still booties allowed (has to be under 65 F for booties at this race) because my feet always get so cold (plus it will be nice for walking over the rocks).

Once we got swimming Leah snapped a couple of solid pictures of Bernie and I

Bernie "the Burninator"

Richard "aka Statman"

Water was extremely calm and minimal wind at the edge and could be ideal for some fast swim times, check out the draft wake in the calm water.

And finally, for the spectators, a preview of the basin this lake is in. It could be more scenic but it is not bad.

Leah also saw some lizards on the dam and captured a good close up.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Travel Days to St George

After traveling 14 hours south we still have not yet got rid of snow. Crazy for this time of year. Today we make the final 4.5 hr drive to St George proper after two days of travel. Last night we enjoyed the fine hospitality of Alex Wenzel and one of his sons staying at their place in Sandy, Utah.

Later today once we arrived in St George I plan to get in a workout of some sort. Bernie apparently arrived yesterday and did a 6 mile run on the course. I still have not yet caught up on a good sleep but my legs feel quite rested and the small itchy throat is finally gone this morning.

Aryana has been sick on the way down so I am somewhat concerned she is in a closed car traveling this long with me.