Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Ironman summer

Training log (Tuesday)
Run 5 km slow
Run 5 km hill sprints

Presently I'm gradually increasing distance at the start of the large training push for Louisville in October. 

Monday, 22 July 2019

Registered for Penticton 2020

I always wanted to race there.  It's like a patriotic duty.  It's the True North Ironman Canada.  After the city cancelled the contract with WTC (Ironman), I would still have gone, if it was the official course, but that wasn't always there in the selection of events that the new organizer was offering.  When I heard that it was once again the Ironman race, THE Canadian Ironman race, I was determined to be there.  Right now, I have the time, I have the funds, so I'm registered and off to Penticton Aug 30 2020.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Ironman Lake Placid

Other than the details of the race itself, how was the trip overall?  Good, really good.  the weather was beautiful, until Monday morning for the drive home. It was mostly sunny, but not ferociously hot like it could be.  Race day was pleasantly cool in the morning, with more and more sunshine throughout the day, making it a wonderful bike ride.  Cool again in the evening for the run.  No rain affecting any day's activities.

I stayed in the village of Willmington, about 20 minutes drive North of Lake Placid.  Hence my worst fear was having car trouble.  Friday and Saturday have required activities, so if i'm stuck outside of town, i'm screwed.  The motel was a typical room, but cost over $200.  For what it cost, a few years ago I got a condo with room for 8 and a full kitchen in Mont Tremblant, so Lake Placid was definitely pricey.  Both Madison and Chattanooga had cheap hotels nearby, so for the overall cost, Lake Placid has a problem that way. 

My trip last year helped tremendously with navigating the city.  I parked every day at the big field on WesValley Road, which is just a 10-minute walk over the hill to the race site at the Olympic oval. Sign-in on Friday was quick.  They were concerned that I didn't have a companion to provide race support.  This shouldn't be done alone. The drive in from Wilmington was fine on race morning.  I even picked up a racer hitch-hiking after his ride dropped him way too far from the start line.   

I needed shoes.  I brought my typical 4 sets of footwear, but gave one to a hobo whom I picked up on the highway out of Toronto.  I sometimes pick up a hitchhiker, who's usually a local without a car, needing a ride to the city.  This guy was a professional drifter, making his way to the East coast, with plans on going out west later in the year. I found him on the on-ramp just east of Toronto, and brought him for the 3 hours to Cornwall where I cross the border.  Noticing he was just wearing socks, I gave him the shoes off my feet. They were the burner shoes that I meant to wear down to swim start and abandon.  when I unpacked, my training runners were missing.  The hobo was admiring them, and we might have left them in the parking lot at the gas station, or perhaps he took them too.  I don't know.  That left me with my race runners, and my slippers.  I tried wearing the slippers for the day, but they weren't good for walking, and my plantar fascitis began bothering me.  I went to the local Marshalls and bought some cheap sneakers as walk-around shoes.  I left them in my morning clothes bag and went barefoot like most everyone else, to swim start.

What Worked Well
- The motel in Wilmington.  I considered staying at the cheap Motel in Malone where i stayed last year, an hour away.  That's too far.  Wilmington at 20 minutes was just far enough.  I drove it quickly enough race morning, with no traffic issues when i got to the city.  I was able to drive home that night without being too tired.  I could even have eaten at McDonalds first, on the way out of town.  
- Nutrition.  I ate all 4 Clif Bars and all 4 Rice Krispies while on the bike.  It was great having them open and ready to go.  Fumbling to rip open the on-course food was no good in Wisconsin. 
- Riding easy.  I should have pushed harder, instead of cutting it so close to bike cut-off.  I loved having so much energy coming out of the gate to the run.
- Lots of run training.  Nothing like running to improve endurance and power.  I should have taken a refresher swim, but overall I wasn't hurt by my lack of swim training. If anything, I could have done more strength training to get my shoulders and back ready for the swim and bike.
- Lists.  I packed Wednesday night using a trip list and the triathlon list. Did i miss anything?  I meant to bring my bottle belt, but went for a run Wednesday, and it didn't make it into the packed set of stuff.  That's about it for the entire event.  I loaded my bags Friday night using the triathlon list, and everything that i needed was there when i opened the bag.
- The hitch mounted bike carrier.  A year ago I bought a SportRack carrier from a second-hand store.  I had to refit the hitch adapter for my 2-inch hitch instead of the 1.5 inch that it came with, but overall has worked great.  It is much easier to mount that the octopus rack which i used to use.
- Parking.  The field on WesValley road was easy to get to, always had a spot for me, and was really close to the event area.

What didn't work
- No bike computer.  My super-easy pace made it risky to make the cut-offs, so it was important to have the computer to measure my distance and figure out my estimated finish. 
- My feet.  Not sure it it was my shoe choice, or short taper.  I could have gone with my customary Asics.  Perhaps a set of new Nimbus 2000's, my favourites.  I could have  eased up further during the week or two before the race.  Who knows if either would have helped.
- No breakfast.  The McDonalds was closed at 5:30 in the morning.  I didn't know where to go for my customary coffee and egg sandwich.  All I ate was a granola bar.  I drank a Mountain Dew, but that just helped give me that bloated feeling during the swim.  With that little food, i had plenty of energy for the swim, but overall missed the coffee and eggs.
- Sleep.  I had trouble sleeping the week before, including the evening of the race.  I should have gone to the movies. That's worked well to calm my mind.  Going to the mountain Saturday to meditate on the race just got me worked up.  
- Mountain Dew. It was good to have in Chattanooga, but failed in Lake Placid.  When I dumped out the Run Bag, it split the can open and pissed Mountain Dew all over my stuff.  Half the can went down okay.  At run special needs pickup, i was starting to feel nauceus already, and the fizzy pop was no good for that, so I poured out most of the can.
- Running.  I probably could have gone back to my loping run after resting the ankle for a couple blocks.  After an hour of walking, I just couldn't pick up the pace to run steady again.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Ironman Lake Placid 2017 Race Report

Final 16:27:48
(2111th out of 2195 who finished on time - 2340 starters. 1572 men, 623 women; me 1523 among the men, 226 place in the M50-55 bracket)

The clock shows time of day at 11:25

The last time I wore my wetsuit was two years ago for the race in Wisconsin.  The last swim I had was for last year’s race in Chattanooga.  I should at least have done a cursory refresher swim.  I take several minutes to get into the groove, where my breathing has settled into a rhythm, and I’m at a steady pace.  This day, it didn’t want to happen.  I’ve gained 5 or 10 pounds, and the wetsuit felt tight.  I just couldn’t get my breath.  I took off the nose clip, to get more air when I breathe.  I did side-stroke for most of the first leg, out to turn-around for the first lap. My side-stroke is almost as fast as my front crawl, so I was making okay time, and could have finished that way.  I noticed a guy beside me with a really slow turnover.  That’s a good idea.  I slowed my stroke cadence down to half.  At that speed, I was able to get enough air, and calm my heart and breathing.  After turn-around, I was fine, and picked up to a comfortable speed doing front crawl.  I kept to the outside, letting the fast swimmers past completing their second lap.  The professionals set out at 6:30, and some made it back to the beach for the crossing to second lap even before I was in the water.  We age-groupers began at 6:40, self-seeding with the slower swimmers like me in the back.  I was with the final few, getting into the water at 6:58.  We each get 17 hours on the clock from when we start, so my deadline was a minute and a half before midnight.  I better not need that. 
Swim 1:56:11

I'm just going through the gate here. About 2300 in the water already.

Friday, for fun I decided to bike up the hill to Whiteface Mountain.  I didn’t get as far as the entrance where it transitions from the public road to the switchbacks to the peak.  Drenched In sweat after 5 km (it’s another 15 to the top) I turned and went back to the motel.  On that downhill I rode the brakes so hard, the wheel rims got so hot that one of the labels came unglued and peeled off.  Far from giving me confidence, it increased my worry over handling the long downhill early in the course.

Me at left, in shirt with white and red swoosh pattern
My bike strategy was take it easy.  Real easy.  Save it all for the run. I took a lazy, slow pace through the early section, always using the lowest gear up the hills.  The long downhill section to the village of Keene wasn’t as frightening as I remembered from my scouting ride last year.  It’s long, but not nearly as steep as that incline to Whiteface.  I’ve practiced a bit of downhill, and learned to stay in the saddle instead of putting my weight on my legs.  I still braked plenty, keeping it under 50 km/h, a speed I’m comfortable at.  It was still surprising how long the descent goes for.  The first section is through the gorge alongside the river, where there was a headwind blowing on us, keeping my speed down.  Then another downhill.  After that a “use low gear next 2 miles” sign, and more downhill.  Another low gear sign, and still more fast descending.  Finally comes the village.  Not over yet.  The sign says  “Welcome to Keen.  Use low gear”.  Another fast downhill. 

He's got my bike. In five minutes they start taking timing chips
The weather was perfect.  Cool around 20 C in the morning, with the water about the same temperature as the air.  Mostly cloudy at first, with more and more sun coming out as the day went on, but still comfortable.  Cool again after sunset.  Monday it rained all morning.  That would have sucked going down those long hills.  

Next comes the flats.  Many kilometers of flat, straight road by the river.  It’s a slight breeze as headwind from the North here.  This is where the aero bars excel.  I put my head down so I could barely see ahead.  This was the only section where I pushed a hard pace.  I flew along, banking time.  An hour of that, and more hills.  I turned the corner going past my motel, and he’s put out a sign for me and the other two athletes staying there.  That felt good.  Down the long hill.  It surprises me for the second time today with how far it goes on with the downhill sections.  I just don’t get the feeling of doing that much climbing to come back.  The climb may feel deceptive to me because it’s slight and steady along a river.  Lots of river on this course.  The flats have a long out-and-back.  I count riders behind me.  52.  About 30 of them will start the run.  My bike computer turned up dead this spring.  I don’t care how fast I go, so I just left it.  That made it really difficult for me to judge my pace on course. I can’t tell how far I’ve been or how long to get there.  At the Wilmington aid station, she advised me to hurry, because it was getting late.  I was estimating my bike finish at 5:00 pm, half an hour before cut-off, but I had all those hills to climb.  By the time I made the outskirts of Lake Placid, it was 5:15, with another hill to go.  I rolled down the chute at 5:25.  No time to saunter through transition.  Have to be on the run course by 5:40 or they close the gate and we’re done for the day.  I’ve made it by 5 minutes. 
Bike 8:11:36
I had a good, but slow, run for the first hour and a half

The intention was to save it for the run.  That worked out well.  I settled into the 5-hour marathon gait which I perfected at the Ottawa marathon.  The splits on my watch showed that I was behind target, but I had the energy to go for a long time.  Most everyone was on their second lap, heading to the finish line.  At 15 km in, my left ankle suddenly gave in.  It hurt a lot, but I wasn’t going to slow for that.  I talked to it, and told it to hold together, but  the response was, “No, we’re limping”.  I couldn’t make it run smooth.  I hobbled along like that for half a block, deciding what to do.  To carry on might mean permanent injury, or worse: being expelled.  I settled into a fast walk, which the ankle was able to do.  Like that I was about 2 hours 45 minutes getting to start of 2nd lap.  Every now and then I stepped up to running for a spell, and the ankle was okay.  Everything hurt through my legs. How do I know when it’s going to give out again, or if it’s for good next time? So I ran down the occasional hill, but mostly kept to a steady fast walk.  The long walk to the finish took the next 3 hours.  Finally I got there at 11:30 with Mike Reilly shaking my hand, welcoming me in. 
Run 5:57:25.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Hypothermic Half 2017

Every time I raced this, I said never again.  When I saw the medal with the abominable snow monster, I chose to come back.  There was some snow blowing for the drive there, but it stopped by the time we arrived. I went with Tammy from my running group training for Around The Bay.  I was nice weather this year; right around 0 C.  Had a good run.  It's a great brunch afterwards, and now I'm very tired.  The next 6 weeks have 20 km runs on the ATB training schedule, so that will be a regular Sunday thing.

And we're off

Some things didn't work well.
  • Carrying a water bottle and fiddling with my gloves and phone was a problem.  I kept dropping one or another of them. Shouldn't have brought the bottle. Shouldn't worry about pictures. 
  • The clip to attach my phone to my belt is really important.  My jacket pockets aren't any good for that. Dropped the phone twice. 
  • The Powerbar chews were no good, because they were too hard to get out of the package wearing gloves, and also because I wasn't drinking enough water to get them down.  Need to stick with gels in winter.
I updated my prep list so I don't make these mistakes at ATB.

Race prep
Finished in 2:07

On your marks

Perth Kilt Run

Was waiting for the Guinness certification to post this, but it never came.  It seems something went wrong, and we didn't get the largest kilt run. Never heard why.  Looks like they will try again in 2017.  No marathon in 2017, so i guess i should have done that last year.  Once in a lifetime.  It was a hot day.  They had the most music I've come across during a race.  A piper (bag) on many a corner. 

Long kilt over long legs
On your marks

Thousands came to run

Kilt runners

Chafing set in about here

Monday, 3 October 2016

Ironman Chattanooga

I'm running through the park.  It's a slow shuffling run, which I can only sustain for a hundred meters or so at a time until back to walking.  Off to my left a woman is on her knees, vomiting into the grass.  I turn right, heading across the river.  Suddenly a woman to the right of me screams out, wailing as she clutches her right leg, rubbing it furiously. I know what that's like. Mine did the same thing an hour ago. I carry on across the bridge. 

Blue bike, carrying my blue drink

How hot was it?  I was stopping my bike to pick up other peoples' discarded water bottles to pour it over myself.  It's race day in Chattanooga. About 2200 people jumped into the water in the morning.  Of that, 26% would not make it to the finish within the time limit. I would manage with just 15 minutes to go before my time ran out.

Swim 1:28:06. Bike 7:30. Run 6:15:21. Total 15:58:10.

Dean and me, on Lookout Mountain high above Chattanooga
 We left early Wednesday.  You have to sign in by Friday, so it’s important to get some distance down the road towards the race site.  We traveled most of the day, looking for a layover in Kentucky.  The Historic Boone Tavern sounded like a good bet.  Unfortunately the clerk advised that it was not a wet county, so we wouldn’t be getting any beers around there.  Daniel wasn’t serving anymore. My partner this trip was my brother Dean.  The kids are all grown up, so it's not a family adventure anymore.

We got to Chattanooga on Thursday and hit the usual tourist locations.  We visited Lookout Mountain and Rock City.  For my afternoon run on Thursday, I went out around 5 PM.  It was ferociously hot in the sun at that time of day.  Not a good sign, since I should be freshly off my bike on Sunday at that hour.

Let me put this into perspective.  In 2007, the Chicago marathon shut down during the race when temperatures hit the high 80’s. Some of the aid stations were out of water, and medical support was overloaded, so they radioed across the course to get everyone to stop running.  In 2012, with projected highs in the high 80’s, the Boston marathon offered participants to forgo running, and come back the next year instead.  The Kona Hawaii triathlon, known for its heat, on average is 84 degrees . There, everyone gets 17 hours.  Chattanooga on Sunday topped out at 97 degrees, with 80% humidity.

This was more than unusually hot, it was past what other races considered safe. This is Ironman.  We were good to go. The forecast was in the nineties.  Water temperature was measured at 83, making it just one degrees below the safety limit where wetsuits are forbidden. I’ve trained in warm water with my wetsuit, and ended up overheated and tired.  It’s a poor way to start the day.  I thought it would make an interesting change to race in just my swimsuit, so I was looking forward to leaving the wetsuit at home.  

Behind me is the second / fourth bridge of the race
Laying out my gear on Friday night, there was no timing chip. I reread the instructions, and it was on a table that I skipped during sign-in.  No matter, I quickly found the timekeeper on race morning and got set up with one.  I also skipped the morning clothes bag, coming to the waterfront in old running shoes, of which I have plenty, and a nightshirt. I abandoned both in the grass to jump off the dock for race start. I was in the water at 7:40.  It’s a time-trial start, with the long line of us going onto the dock in single file.  It takes about a half hour to get everyone in. We each get 16:15:00 as time limit counting from when we start. As I commonly do, I headed off course and was chased down by a woman In a kayak. "That way", she pointed.  I was headed across the river and would have missed the left channel around the island. It was a scenic swim, beside the cliffs where the art gallery sits, then under two bridges.  The current helps us along, but only gained me 10 minutes over my previous swim times for the distance. Skipping swim training entirely this year, my preparation all summer for it consisted of the swimming pool in the hotel on Friday night. In 90 minutes I was out.  Dean high fived me at swim exit, then he stayed to watch the rest.  An hour later, there was one racer who failed to make the time limit in the water portion; ending her day early.  

download pending

download pending
What a great bike course.  The hills and valleys of Georgia were beautiful.  The rolling hills had nothing very steep or high for us to ride on.  There were two fast downhill spots, where they warned us with caution signs.  Not really that fast, I don’t think I topped 50 km/h all day.  After the half way, heading to my second lap of the loop, my neck got to be really painful.  That was a problem, since a breeze from the south made a headwind, and with the lack of any technical difficulty to the ride, it was a great opportunity to sit low on the aerobars for long periods. I couldn’t take that any longer, and rode up on the brake hoods or even sitting fully upright holding the cross piece of the handlebars.  The heat was getting to me, and I noticed that I couldn’t swallow my fourth Clif Bar.  I had to wash it down with Gatorade.  With that warning me of dehydration, I stopped at all the next aid stations to chug half a bottle of water, pouring the remainder over my head and arms and legs. Sipping it while riding was getting me enough. The volunteers were great.  I asked for sunscreen, and immediately was given a bottle of sunscreen to refresh my layer.  There was always water, usually cold.  That’s a big deal.  If they ran out, many more of us would have been in trouble.  Between aid stations, I resorted to picking up discarded water bottles, hot from the pavement, to further douse myself.  That helped a lot, because the air flow while riding wet like that kept me cool.  There were many, many riders stopped at roadside to sit under a shading tree with head in hands.  I persevered and made it back to Chattanooga at 5:30 PM.  Coming around the last corner, my right thigh adductor seized up, and I leapt off to the shoulder of the road to let it ease up.  Back on the bike, it immediately cramped again.  A guy riding by called, “walk it off. walk it off”  Good advice.  Walking helped, but I wasn’t sure I could ride any further.  A passerby commented that it was all downhill.  Another good idea.  I got back on and coasted the couple hundred meters to the gate.  

Dean was there, handing out water.  He was smiling and happy. I could tell he was having a good time with the other volunteers.  Volunteering is more fun than racing, with the camaraderie you get from working together. 

Done it!  Dean in the red shirt.
Out to the run course.  All summer I enjoyed PowerBar chews instead of gels for the runs.  So I filled a ziplock bag with several packages of them for the run.  Collecting that at transition 2, the heat had melded them together into a big glob.  Maybe they will pull apart, I thought. First they stuck to a couple fingers, then a couple more, then the palm, and in short order I was wearing the entire lot like a mitt.  That had to stay for the 2 km until the first aid station for me to wash it off.  This was my aid station last year!  They had Clif Blocks! Cold ones! Hurray! I was saved again by the volunteers. I didn’t bother running for the first little while. If my hip cramped again, I was finished.  I wasn’t going to risk that.  Instead, more eating. I ate 4 Clif bars and 3 Rice Krispies on the bike. Now I started into chips.  Salty, crunchy, potato chips.  I was nicely hydrated, as evidenced by my ability to take on several cups of chips.  That plus the Clif Blocks gave me plenty of energy to keep going. I chatted with another walker, who had the impression we got 17 hours. No. With 16 ¼ available, I needed to finish just before midnight.  It’s a brisk walk to cover it in the time I had.  More support needed from an aid station. Vaseline. I selected my shorts because they prevent chafing, but it didn’t work like I needed.  Then came the blisters.  I could feel them painfully swell up one after another in my heels and under the ball of the foot.  I've never gotten blisters; not even on my long run a week before in the rain where my shoes filled with water for 10 km. Except that one time when I came out of the water to find no socks set out at my bike. I ran the 21 km that day with no socks and got a nasty welt at the Achilles. No matter, after finishing the first lap, I raised a finger in the air, excitedly shouted "Uno Mas!" and went back for another. I got my second Mountain Dew from my special needs bag.  This is the first time I’ve used a special needs bag.  The Mountain Dew was great.  An extra load of caffeine to start each lap of the run. Now in the dark, I put on a string of glow sticks.  All the more like a zombie, I was nevertheless able to run a few short bursts.  Shortly past 11:30 I crossed the final bridge and managed a lumbering run down the hill to the finish.  Once again Dean was there.  What a great Sherpa he was. I had a good time.  Time was tight, but always within reach, and then suddenly, there it was.