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.......