Monday, December 26, 2011

2011 review and 2012 and beyond... (Part 2 - Pilgrimage to Mecca)

Going to Kona was going to be a new experience for me.  Not only were we going to Hawaii, or the world championships, but I have never specated at an Ironman before.  I've always been racing and never stayed much past my own finish.  It was time to see what all this was about.  Was it worth it, was it worth the hours on the road and sometimes total boredum.  Was it worth sneaking around to get out of work to fit in those workouts.  Not racing the race gave me the chance to check out the whole course and not feel any pressure of the race.  I loved the swim course.  I love swimming in the ocean.  The bouyancy of the salt is amazing.  I was cleaning my goggles out with going under and hardly any vertical kicking.  I swam out to the Coffee's of Hawaii boat and had some espresso.  I was able to just basically float and drink and talk. 

For the bike course I rented a Kestrel Talon from a local shop.  It was actually a great bike.  Over the course of the time we were in Kona I managed to ride the whole course.  I didn't do it all in one day because there isn't a lot of ways to support yourself out there.  The QueenK is a long stretch of highway without much around.  I didn't want to risk it by myself and didn't know anyone else there that wasn't racing that would want to do it with.  On one of my longer 70 mile rides, I got a flat about 35 miles from home.  You can imagine I was a little nervous riding back.  So one day I rode out most of the way and back on my own.  Another day I met my wife in Hawi at the turn around.  As for the course, I didn't really find it all that amazing or difficult. There are winds but they are mostly in Hawi.  The rest of the course wasn't all that bad.  It's hot there, but not that hot on the bike course.  I felt the heat much more on the run than on the bike. 

The run course at Kona is really cool.  You run through town and then out on to the highway and into the Energy Lab and then back into town.  It's hot.  I'm not gonna lie.  It's about like Michigan feels in the summer.  The problem, is that Michigan cools down in September so when you get there it feels even hotter because your not used to it.  In town it's not so bad, out on the highway and into the Energy Lab is get's hot.  But like all races there are aid stations every mile so I'm sure that helps out a lot. 

Aside from spectating the race and checking out the course, we also met in person @felog and his wife.  The 4 of us did the Kona Underpants run.  That was quite an experience.  The outfits people wore were insane.  It was a blast.

Part 3 - The verdict

Sunday, December 18, 2011

2011 review and 2012 and beyond... (Part 1)

It's been quite a while since I last blogged.  The last time I blogged I was just coming off a 2nd OA at a Half Ironman and starting to gear up for Ironman Lake Placid.  Since my last post, I've done other races that haven't gone so well, been given a sweet award from Ironman, interviewed for TV and newspaper, finished an Ironman, and bought a new mountain bike.  Let's start at the sweet award I recieved from Ironman.

You may recall on the Ironman broadcasts, they used to give awards out to people called Everyday Hero's.  They've since changed that program and renamed it calling it Everyday People, Extraordinary Heights.  You can find out more about it here.  I found the contest because they were giving away a week of training with pro's in southern California and 2500 dollars in training gear.  You had to write an entry talking about what you've done or what you do that show's your reaching Extraordinary Heights.  I wrote about my weight loss and how I lost 100lbs and also how I participate in charities.  You can view the broadcast for it here.  After I put in my entry I was contacted by them and told that they also have a contest for every race this year as well as the overall grand prize.  They thought that I should enter the contest for Lake Placid since I was racing.  Well I won!  The prize was 2500 dollars cash, free entry to any Ford Ironman race in the US, and VIP treatment at the race I was competing at.  Talk about living a dream.  The VIP treatment was amazing.  We had access into everything, I was given a lot of Ironman merchandise, and I even got to have dinner with the Voice of Ironman Mike Reilly.  What a cool guy he is.  I think the highlight of the experience though, was sitting on the pro panel at the expo and answering questions with the pro's.

Another part of the experience was doing the actual filming of the TV spot.  They had setup a makeshift studio in the high school auditorium.  They brought in the TV camera's and setup the background similar to what you see in the Kona broadcast.  Actually the camera guys were also the guys that do the Kona broadcast as well. 

They asked me questions about how I lost the weight, and way.  I talked about how I just didn't feel well about myself anymore and how I married my gorgeous wife and it just wasn't fair to her to be married to a fat ass like myself.  They also asked me about the charities that I participate in and we talked about the WaronALS and Detroit Iron.  The guy interviewing me was the same guy that interviewed Jon Blais so we were able to talk about Jon and what a great person he was.  I never got the opportunity to meet him but I have met his parents and they are wonderful people and I enjoy helping their cause. 

After the we did the TV interview they wanted me to get out into a new Ford Explorer and get some shots of the interior and exterior of the car.  The car they had for the commercial didn't have all the interior bangs and whistles that they wanted me to show off so they did all of the inside shots in the Ironman bike support vehicle and all of the exterior shots in the rented Explorer from a local dealer. 
Beyond the experience of the contest I also had a race to run.  I won't make this a full race report but I do want to touch on some things that happened.  To start the day the water temp was too for wetsuits so if you wanted to try to qualify for Kona you couldn't wear a wetsuit.  That was fine for me because I had purchased a Blueseventy swim skin and I can swim comfortably without a wetsuit.  The problem was the mixed swim start.  The guys that wore the wetsuits decided to line up on the front of the start line.  This caused an issue for most of the whole swim because they had the advantage of the wetsuits so the pack never broke up.  The swim was by far my worst swim ever.  On the bike I had disaster after disaster with 4 mechanical problems that put me on the side of the road for over 20 miunutes.  Then on the run I had digestion issues and a monster blister. 

My total finish time was 11:47.  Quite a bit off from the 9:30's I ran before.  Not exactly what I had planned.  Now sure an 11:47 would be many people's dream but its not abotu the time that I am so pissed about.  It's all the problems I had.  If I gave it everything I had and got that then I feel ok about it.  But I barely felt like I raced.  My digestion problems kept me from eating and drinking during the run so I actually got sick and had to go into the medical tent after.  So while my stomach was so upset, my body felt like it hadn't done anything all day.  I was just overall disappointed and unfortunatly this whole meltdown was televised.  So here I am the first time on TV as a featured athlete and I am falling apart left and right.  Of course they were right there at finish line with a camera in my face and I smiled like I was so excited but really I was deeply disappointed.  I did manage to get a pretty cool picture when I was running at one point. 

The problem is that in 2010 I trained my butt off, bought everything, and ended up injuring my IT band during training about a month before the race.  I had a slow bike and no chance on the run.  I basically ran out of transition, had my wife take my pic, and then I dropped out.  I just couldn't take the pain in my IT band.  I was devasted.  So coming into 2011 it was going to be my year.  I had forgone most of the racing that I would usually do so that I could focus on training for IMLP.  To go out to LP and have another year of problems really started to make me think.  What the hell am I doing this for?  2 years in a row I work my ass and spend hours and hours training only to have 2 disasters. 

To make matters worse, about a month before Lake Placid my right knee began hurting again.  This is the knee that I blew out in 2005 in a motocross accident.  I've since had 3 surgeries on it including an ACL replacement.  I knew after Lake Placid that I would probably have to forego doing Rev 3 Cedar Point because of this injury but I felt like I could at least get through this race.  I also figured that if I made it to Kona, I wouldn't go there and race hard anyway but instead enjoy the experience. 

After Lake Placid I decided it was time to take a break and stop the structured training and try to enjoy the rest of the summer with no pressure.  Something I haven't done in about 5 years.  I didn't do another race all year.  Even the sprint that I usually do at Island Lake in August I skipped.  I just didn't have the drive to do it.  My knee started hurting pretty bad and my motivation went down into the dumps.  I decided I needed to see what I was training for.  What was Kona really like and was all this worth it?  So we booked a trip to Kona to watch the world championships. 

Part 2 coming.......

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Race for Recovery Race Report

So finally on June 5th I got to race.  It had been 9 months since I crossed the line at the Rev3 Half at Cedar Point.  After a winter of being locked that felt excessivly long, I was happy to get out race.  I almost forgot how much fun this was!  I also had a new ride that I wanted to test out.

Pre Race -
The race was located in Monroe, MI which is about 90 minutes south of me near the Ohio border.  Where I live in Michigan, there are actually hills, some pretty big.  In Monroe, you don't even have a freeway overpass.  It's the flattest course you will do in Michigan.  Now you'd think that would mean a fast time.  Unfortunatly it doesn't.  The roads are very course and slow.  They also have a lot of holes in them and are poorly patched.  On top of that, it's mostly farm land which means a lot of wind.  This course is actually the slowest half course I've ever done.  The run is flat too but the course is really cool.  You run around these lagoons a couple times. 

I woke up at 3 on race morning and packed up and headed out.  I had a Coke and a Powerbar, and sipped on a flask of EFS Liquishot on the way down.  I also sucked down another bottle of EFS drink on the way down as well.  I wanted to make sure I had everything topped off. 

Swim -
I did this race a couple years ago and the water is pretty much always rough.  This year wasn't much different but a little better.  I don't mind swimming in swells in the ocean but too much swapping around is tough for me.  Going out it was a lot of swapping around.  Then the course goes to the right and comes in a ways before making another right and going parallel with the beach.  Then turns around again and comes back the other way.   I really don't like what the race director did for this swim course.  How hard is it to just go out and come back?  Here's a pic of the weird swim course.
Anyway, got out of the water in 32 minutes and took off onto the bike.  

Bike -

On the bike I was feeling pretty good.  The course is pan flat but the roads are really rough and it's alot of open fields so it can be pretty windy at times.  It's a lollipop 3 loop course.  There's 1 aid station on the course that is at the beginning of each loop.  I thought I had road myself into the lead but I was actually in third place.  The 2 in front of me had pretty decent swims. 

Run -

The run on this course is the best part.  It's a two loop run course that runs around the lagoons at the park.  It has some out and back sections on it too where you can see the other racers and count what place your in.  At the start of the run I was 3 minutes down to 2nd place.  I could see him ahead of me and I felt like I could catch him.  I kept feeling something digging into my left foot though. Almost like I had a rock in my shoe.  I stopped a couple times to see if I did but I wasn't finding anything.  Finally about 3 miles in I passed the guy for 2nd.  I stopped shortly after that though as the pain was starting to get worse and I could feel a nasty blister starting to form.  But at this point I was 2nd overall and I didn't want to drop out because of a blister.  I put my shoe on and kept running.  I would stop about 4 more times through the course of the run to keep checking to see if there was something up with my shoe.  After the race I realized that the new bike shoes I bought, were actually the cause of the blister.  I had gotten some really bad hot spots on the bike and by the time I got to the run my feet were already hurt.  I realized this a couple days later when I went for a ride and I felt like my feet were on fire in the new shoes but I put my old shoes back on and they felt fine.  Anyway back to the race....  So after a few stops I ended up finishing 2nd OA.  I felt pretty strong the whole race and it gave me a lot of confidence going into my build for IMLP. 

Big thanks to Gear and Training for all the support so far this season.  I am looking forward to putting your name as far up the podium as I can!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

So what's been up ya'll....

I haven't really been posting like I intended so I figured I better do something.  From a personal standpoint things haven't changed much.  We've had some holiday's go by but rather uneventful.  Work is still going well, wife is still happy, and the dogs, well, they have nothing to complain about.  Oh by the way, if you haven't seen them on my Twitter or Facebook page, here's a pic.

Jackson is the black one and Stella is the white one.  These 2 dogs are very smart and very talkative.  I could go on for hours about my dogs. 

From a triathlon standpoint, the season is getting off to a slower start.  Much of that is due to the weather.  The whole upper midwest has dealt with a longer than normal winter.  We had snow all the way through the middle to end of April.  It sort of put a damper on my biking riding but in all honesty, it may have been a blessing.  Last year I got started early, I was working with a coach, and I was a bit over excited.  I ended up doing too much too soon and getting myself a nasty ITB injury that ended up forcing me to DNF Lake Placid.  So this year I am getting a slower start but I think that might be a good thing.  I also had a bit of an injury this year already.  I'm not sure if it's Plantar Faciitis or not but I have some pain in my arch that was pretty continuous.  Not in the heel though, which from what I understand is a sign of PF.  I did find that taping it allowed me to continue to run without much pain during or after.  I had to take 2 weeks pretty easy and a few days off completely.  My long run's are only back up to 90 minutes but I feel I can start extending that and considering IMLP is just over 9 weeks away, that's about the perfect amount of time to build up to the 2.5 hours that I need prior to the race.  From a speed standpoint, I'm right where I want to be.  My legs feel a little tight but I think some stretching and massage should get them moving well. 

On the bike things are going quite well.  My FTP is about 4.2w/kg which is right where I want to be for now.  I am just now starting to get into doing real intervals on the road and with the amount of time between now and IMLP, I should be able to see some pretty decent gains.  My weekly hours on the bike are around 7-10 depending on the week and it will closer to 13 by beginning of July.  This year I was given an opportunity to ride for the Gear and Training racing team.  Through that opportunity I was able to get a new bike.  For 2011 I am riding a new Cervelo P2.  The Felt B2 that I had is in need of some replacement components and the fork is old and I've heard of failures.  So I decided to just get a whole new bike.  I did change somethings like the crank and aerobars but the rest of the bike is stock.  I'll throw my race wheels on it for race day and I should be good to go.  It does seem like a bit faster than my Felt.  Partly could be how much better it fits, and some of it from the frame.  I had thought about a P3 or a P4 but I don't like the bottle configuration on the P4, nor do I think a proper position (NO SPACERS) would be very comfortable for me over 112 miles on either one.  They share the same geometry. 

Racing is right around the corner, FINALLY!!!!  Everyone on the team keeps talking about all the racing there doing and I am so jealous!!!  Last year I had the motto, quality not quantity.  Well that didn't work so well.  I need to race.  If I don't I burn out and when race day comes around I'm burnt.  The proof is in the results.  Last year I skipped 2 races I planned on early in the season and by the 3rd race I was horribly burnt out.  Then I went to Lake Placid injured and just skipped the run.  4 weeks later I did an Olympic, all healed up, and got 2nd overall.  3 weeks after that I went to Rev3 Cedar Point and did the half.  I got off the bike with a 3 minute lead on the whole field.  Thanks to my lack of run training because of my injury, I lost my lead on the 2nd or 3rd mile and held on barely for 7th overall.  But point being, racing keeps me fresher and keeps me in the right state of mind.  That said, May 27th I'm possibly doing an Olympic, the next week a half iron, then a 100 mile bike race the week after that, and then a run off the bike of course, and the weekend after that the Olympic I did so poorly at last year.  Then one more really good build block before starting my taper 2 weeks out from LP.  This is more of the plan of attack for racing I took in 2009 which was arguably my best year in triathlon ever except for the overall half ironman win in 2008.  In 09 I did various length races including 2 IM's (IMLOU in 9:59 and IMFL 9:35) and performed overall much better.  I am hoping to have similar success in 2011.  Only time will tell...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Recovery isn't for me...

It seems the more I train the more my body needs to train. It's like a drug and when I don't do it, my body actually feels like it goes through withdrawals. This week I decided to try a real "recovery" week. I took Monday completely off. On Tuesday I swam 3k and rode on my trainer for 45 minutes very easily. By Wednesday morning I noticed my body was not happy. I decided to a run a try. Wow, that felt horrible. My legs felt really tight, my stride was very short and my HR would not climb. In general I just felt like crap. By the end of the workout I swore all this recovery stuff off. Thursday I did a 3k swim in the morning and a 55 minute run in the afternoon. I was feeling a little bit better but still not great. On Friday the weather was going to be good enough to ride in the afternoon. I went for a short swim in the morning and then took off to work since the sooner I get there, the sooner I can leave. I even took an hour PTO to get out on my bike early. The wind was horrible and cold. I had on some very un aero clothes and it was pretty unfortable to ride aero on the bike so I spent a decent amount of time sitting up. The power data is ok not great but for the 2nd outdoor ride of the year it's not bad. I think I averaged about 3.25w/kg but average speed was way down due to the wind. It wasn't really meant to be a hard ride anyway. So usually on Saturday's I do all 3. Well since this week was a recovery week, I decided to just go for a run. I finally started to feel better. I ran in the trails that I have been XC skiing on all winter and now were for the most part clear and no snow. They were still a little bit muddy though. So I moved out to the road for the 2nd half. I ended up doing about 10 miles. Something weird happened to my Garmin though. The elevation is weird. You can see it here. It's a hilly course but I didnt climb 1300ft in 1 mile. So today, I decided to just do a straight ride on the trainer. Man I hate the trainer. I have a really nice one (CycleOps Super Magneto Pro) but I still hate it. I am so bored. I was going to ride outside but it wasnt even over 30 when I was going to ride. I might be from Michigan but I hate feeling cold. I love the heat. I love the feeling of sweat poring down my face and the heat feeling like an oven. I can't even barely ride my trainer with the fan on me in my face. I get these strange chills and I would rather sweat all over the place than feel that.

Long story short, I am not a fan of recovery weeks and I think my body agree's. I've heard for some athletes this is pretty common to actually feel worse than better when they take a day off. I'd rather do a recovery ride than take a whole day off. I think I recover better from doing that than taking a whole day off. So back to two-a-days five days a week and 2 big weekend workouts tomorrow, and very happily I might add.

Friday, February 25, 2011

First Post

So here I am, going to be a blogger.  Most of my public internet conversations are limited to 140 characters so this is going to be a change for me.  But now I am going to open up and let it all hang out in this blog.   Hopefully I can be somewhat entertaining and make it worth your while.  I don't know how often I'm going to be updating this blog but keep checking back.

A little bit about me.  I'm 32 years old (33 in a few days), born and raised in Detroit, married, no kids, 2 Siberian Huskies, and I work in IT for a bank.  For a hobby I race triathlon.  I mostly like to do Ironman distance races but I'll race pretty much any distance. I've always had some sort of a hobby.  Before I did triathlons I was racing dirt bikes.  The problem there was the high risk of injury and the increasing costs of equipment.  It would cost me close to $300 a weekend to go riding somewhere.  So I found cycling and found that I really liked it.  A friend at work was doing Team in Training and told me I should try doing a triathlon.  I told her I couldn't swim and I hated running.  She eventually convinced me and I signed up for a sprint.  I worked really hard on learning to swim.  I would watch Youtube video's on my bed and try to mimic the stroke.  Then going to the lake to practice.  I wanted to make sure I could swim a little bit before I actually went to a pool.  The night before the race, I actually had really bad food poisoning.  I woke up the next day and thought I put too much time to just skip it.  So on the way to the park I picked up a Red Bull (which was a bad idea) and went on to the race.  I was so nervous waiting to for the gun to go off.  Once the gun shot all the nerves went away and I was off.  I had trouble keeping my hr down thanks to the Red Bull.  Crossing the finish line for the time was amazing for me even though it was a local race.  Finally I did my first triathlon and completely fell in love.  It was the toughest thing I ever did and I was so excited. 

It was all downhill from there.  I ended up doing 3 more races in the next 4 weeks.  So here I am now going on my 5th year of racing and I still love it like the first race.  I've done over 25 races including 2 full Ironman.  As for results, I've done much better than I did that first race.  I've had some good sucesses in the sport and that's what really drives me.  Triathlon has brought a lot of structure to my life and helped me be a better person. 

So keep watching world.  2011 is going to be a great year.  I have 3 Full IM's scheduled and a few other smaller races.  I am also a member of Gear and Training's triathlon team.  You can actually go there and use coupon AG12 and save 20% and free shipping on all orders over $150.  They seem like great people and I am really looking forward to this year and all the things to come.