Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock...

The clock is counting down. Gwen and I are here in Louisville and I'm definitely pumped up. I want to take a quick minute to thank everyone who has been checking in, leaving comments for me, and giving me encouragement. Wish me luck! I'll post following the race...

Later on...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bring It On.

Bib #'s were released for IMKY today.  Yours truly will be sporting Bib #321.  It's real baby and it is right around the corner.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The "Staple" IM Nightmare Blog... W/ a Twist

First and foremost, I want to put it out there that if, after reading this post, you deem me to be neurotic and insane... you are probably only 1/2 right. The mental stress of IMKY's rapid approach seems to make itself evident in new and interesting ways every day but I'm happy to report that it has not driven me to the edge of sanity. Yet.

I think that I may have mentioned a time or two over the last several weeks that I have been having increasingly vivid, and strange, Ironman related nightmares. I am convinced that this is a common theme amongst those preparing for an IM, Marathon, etc. etc. My dreams started out as your run of the mill late for the race (similar to the late for your final exam variety dream), getting lost on the course, and other easily imaginable nightmares. From there I moved on to the more disturbing, being chased by a madman while trying to finish, and coming across a road that has been flooded variety. Each dream seemed to grow more intense, more vivid, and harder to shake in the morning. That being said, my dream last night is far and away the most creepy.

Before any of this I want to say that I know that your dreams are never as interesting to someone else as they are to you. I don't know how many times I have had to "act interested" when a co-worker explains their "crazy" dream and then spends what seems like forever pontificating about what it might mean. I won't bore you with my thoughts on what my twisted mind is telling me...

At any rate, here's the dream. Through a series of strange twists and turns in the race I somehow ended up in a massive sewer system. Disconcerting as it was to be totally off course I was more concerned with the "Freddy Kreuger-esque" gentleman that was chasing me. On foot I was having a terrible time staying ahead of him (and who is surprised by this when you consider my always slow run split?). I came to a portion of the sewer that was all chutes and ladders... (Probably something to do with my love for the video game Donkey Kong) and it was here that he caught me. I don't remember exactly what he said in the dream but as he wrapped his hands around my neck and started to choke me he said in a sinister voice "How do you like them apples... Ironman?" At this point I woke up gasping for air and trying to figure out what the heck was going on. I sat up so fast in bed that it scared one of the dogs awake and onto her feet. I could see her standing there staring at me wondering whether to run or lay back down. She's lazy and chose the latter.

So... there is the token "I have such crazy dreams during Taper Madness" post. Can't wait to see what the next couple of weeks will hold. Hope all is good.

L, P, and CG.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Grand Cycling Classic and Final "Testing"

Starting on Friday and ending today I had the last "testing" workouts of my training plan.  I started out with a bang and ended with a whimper but in the end, I'm feeling good heading into my last two weeks of training before IMKY.  

Fri. was a great day for my 10 mile bike TT.  There was a pretty strong headwind for the first half of the ride but I tried to maintain a decent cadence knowing that I could make up some of the time on my way back.  In the end I finished in 00:26:30 with an average of 22.6 MPH.  This was my fastest testing TT yet and I still didn't feel like I was anywhere close to leaving it all out on the course.  Coincidentally I finished the first 10 miles of Steelhead just under 25 minutes... so it's not like I am being overconfident when I say that I can still do better.  I just have to put it all together.  I guess that post-IMKY will be a good time for that.

Sat. I was at the pool to set my T-time for the last time.  It took my 00:16:43 to swim 1000 meters and this was good enough to shave 4 seconds off of my previous best.  The new t-time was 00:01:40.  Again, I still felt like I could do better (although this hasn't been the case in the past... when I set my t-time last time I felt like I was giving it my all and then some).  It is definitely encouraging to be this far into my training and realize that I still have room to improve.  And, with that being said... here is a great example of how just how bad I CAN be at times...

This morning, Sunday, I hopped on my bike and followed behind Gwen while she did her long run for the week.  She ran 10 miles in some pretty nasty heat and humidity.  After her run I convinced her to come along to the track with me while I did my 3 mile TT.  I was feeling pretty good and figured I didn't need a warm-up.  This was probably the first mistake that I made.  I started out a little hot but was feeling good.  The first mile I finished in 00:06:59.  I was feeling great after this lap and was staying super consistent running 00:01:45 laps.  My second mile I came in at 00:07:01.  And those were the highlights of the day.  I blew up on my second lap of the 3rd mile and scrapped it for the day.  I just absolutely died on this lap and figured that the point of the workout was to run a TT... and since I couldn't do anything respectable at this point... I called it a day.  Anyway, live and learn.  

So, onward and upward.  This week I'm back to my training for a bit before IMKY.  I'm nervous and excited but there is a lot of other stuff going on right now which is nice because it helps keep my mind off of IMKY.  We are doing a huge renovation/remodel with our backyard/basement/driveway at home, Gwen's birthday is tomorrow (!!!!), and unfortunately our dog Hannah (the Great Dane) hurt her leg and has to go see a orthopedic vet.  It is looking like she tore or ruptured her ACL.  Anyway, with all this going on... I suppose it makes it easier in some ways.

So, before I sign off... I am going to post some photos from the Grand Cycling Classic that took place in Grand Rapids this weekend.  Gwen and I showed up and were able to catch the last Masters Race and the Pro Race.  Also, we ran into local legends Jim (from and Jeff (providing the best leadout in West MI for years to come), which was really cool.  Anyway, the race was a lot of fun and hopefully you'll get an idea of some of the excitement from the pics.  Hopefully this event will get larger in the years to come and I'll be able to continue enjoying it!

Alright all... hope your weekend was good.  Check in later!

Above:  The peloton comes racing in towards the finish.

Above:  These are the bikes that the support crew would hand out if a bike couldn't be ridden anymore... too bad they weren't a Whisper or a Jade huh (sorry had to... check them out at the links to the left)!

Above:  Race winner, Big Tom Zirbel of Bissell Cycling getting a taste of those famous GR "cobbles."

Monday, August 3, 2009

Steelhead 1/2 IM Race Report

Pictured Above: Gwen and I post race

Sat. was my 2nd 1/2 IM of the year and yet another great experience.  I had a lot of fun and really enjoyed participating in Michigan's only Ironman sanctioned (and my first Ironman branded) event.  Read below for the race report and check back over the next week to take a look at some of the "official" photos from the event.  So, for those who aren't interested in reading the long report here is the info that "matters" :

bib number:2098
location:Holland, MI
overall place:943 out of 1660
division place:100 out of 144
gender place:751 out of 1181
trans 1:5:36
trans 2:5:10

On Friday, Gwen and I drove down to Benton Harbor to attend the expo and to pick up my race packet.  The expo wasn't nearly as big as I thought it would be but there was certainly anything one could want there.  I resisted the urge to get carried away and ended up only buying a Steelhead Cycling Jersey and T-shirt.  They had a ton of sweet loot there but I decided not to get too crazy as IMKY is coming up and I definitely want to hook myself up while down there.  After picking up my packet and everything we were on our way back home and I was mentally preparing for the race in the morning.  My plan going into this race was to take it really easy and use it as a long training day.  I spent the rest of Fri. night getting ready for the morning and packing up.  

Sat. morning Gwen and I woke up at 4:30 a.m.  I grabbed a couple of slices of bread, a glass of OJ, and hit the road by 4:50 a.m.  During the hour drive to Benton Harbor I listened to my usual pre-race mix of "This American Life," and Wilco/Band of Horses/Bob Dylan/Grateful Dead.  Lately I've been listening to this kind of mix a lot as I find it helps to get me pretty relaxed.  Once I got into Benton Harbor I had about 40 minutes before the transition area closed down.  I parked, put some air in my tires, and was on my way.  Right before I hopped on my bike to ride down a woman rode up and asked if she could use my pump... long story short, she blew her tube, needed help changing it, and based on all of this I got to transition with about 5 minutes to spare.  I was able to get set up pretty quick and then grabbed my wetsuit, goggles, and swim cap and headed out towards the start line.  The way that the swim start/finish was set up was really neat.  

First off, the swim was in Lake Michigan which both scared me and made me really excited.  To get to the swim start you had to walk 1.2 miles down the beach from transition.  The walk was nice because it helped to get the blood flowing and also it was neat to take a stroll down the beach.  The swim start area was awesome!  Totally unlike any of the events that I have done before.  It was a big party atmosphere with music playing, a huge inflatable start arch, an MC, etc. etc.  I was the 2nd to last swim wave and by the time my wave got lined up in the start area we were all ready to go.  Probably my favorite part of any triathlon (or one of my favorite parts) is that few moments before you actually hit the water.  The nervous energy that comes out in the form of shaking arms, slapping of thighs, blowing into clenched fists, hands pumping in the air, and so on is beautiful!  Once the horn sounded and we hit the water I was feeling great.  We were swimming with the current towards transition and I was making my way around a lot of weaker swimmers.  Once again, the buoys were lined up to the right of me (which makes it difficult for me as I sight/breathe to the left normally) but again, I was able to pace myself off someone else who I kept to the left of me.  I exited the water feeling great and as I ran up to the transition area I spotted Gwen and my Mom (and Hannah) standing along the barriers cheering for me.  I stopped to say hey and then made my way to my bike.  I definitely took my time in transition (throughout the day) and Gwen was able to snap a couple pictures.

Pictured Above:  Me coming into T1

Pictured Above:  Taking a moment to say hi before hopping on the bike

Heading out of T1 I was feeling great and felt like I was going to try to put the hammer down on the bike.  The first 33 miles were money.  I was cruising at a really easy 23.9 MPH and was feeling like there was no way I would drop below 23.5 MPH overall.  And then the proverbial "poop" hit the fan.  My first problem of the day hit EXACTLY at mile 33.  I heard a hiss coming from my back tire and realized right away that I blew a tube.  Once I pulled over and hopped off the bike I realized that there was a knick in my tire that would potentially expose any tube I used to puncture.  Luckily I was able to get inventive and threw in a $20 bill that I always keep in my bike bag between the tube and the tire.  This added another layer of protection and would keep me on the road.  Even though I thought I was moving quickly it took me around 7 or 8 minutes to complete this whole process.  I hopped back on the bike and hit the roads again.  Maybe now is a good time to explain that the roads for this bike course were terrible.  Honestly, I can't believe that they used some of the roads... it would have been better to ride on the gravel shoulder half the time.  Anyway, about 5 miles up the road I punctured another tube.  I was freaking out because I had only brought one tube with me.  As I stood on the side of the road I started asking everyone who was going by if they had an extra tube.  Finally some incredibly compassionate, awesome, unselfish guy stopped and threw me a tube.  I had to rip the $20 in half (I know... most expensive flats ever...) to "patch" the second hole in my tire.  This was like another 10 minutes before I was back on the road.  At this point I was just incredibly pissed.  I honestly was thinking about calling it quits.  And then I hit the headwind.  The headwinds for the last 18 miles was R-I-D-I-C-U-L-O-U-S.  People were literally moving at less than 10 MPH and I have heard that a ton of people actually missed the cut-off time based on this.  Anyway, with all the above my bike time was ripped to shreds.  I came in averaging an official 18 and some change MPH.  Here's a pic that Gwen snapped of me coming into T2... I look thrilled aye?

T2 was a chance for me to cool off (literally and figuratively...).  The rain started shortly before I got there and added another wrinkle to the day.  By the time I left transition I was just ready to be done.  Luckily the run was a welcome relief after all my drama on the bike.  Normally I get bored with the run but it was a good chance for me to get into my own head and remember why I love this sport.  The run course was set up with a couple of loops.  It was neat because the run course was always full of people.  By the time I was on the course a lot of people were on their second loop and this gave me a lot of motivation to keep on pushing.  By the time I was crossing mile 13, and the finish line was in sight... I was feeling great.  No big issues nutrition or otherwise on the run.  Here I am coming into the finish line:

So, overall I had a great time.  In the end, I was able to push through some less than ideal circumstances and remind myself why I'm doing this.  Also, I had a great time preparing for IMKY which is now right around the corner.  I was so happy that Gwen and my Mom stuck out the rain and cheered for me and that all the great volunteers and people cheering the athletes on stayed around.  A great event through and through.  Well... I guess that's it.  I'm feeling great today and will be back to my training plan this week.  Thanks for taking the time to read through all this!