Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ironman- Catch it on TV All Day, January 1st

Tune in on January 1, as Universal Sports dedicates the entire day to the Ford Ironman World Championship from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, including the 2009 event aired recently on NBC.

Below is the Universal Sports schedule for January 1st, 2010, in Eastern Standard Time.

Ford Ironman World Championship from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM - 2001
11:30 AM - 1:00 PM - 2002
1:00 PM - 3:00 PM - 2004
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM - 2005
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM - 2006
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM - 2007
7:30 PM - 9:00 PM - 2008
9:00 PM - 9:03 PM - Countdown to Vancouver News Update
9:03 PM - 10:30 PM - 2009
10:30 PM - 12:00 AM - 2001
12:00 AM - 12:03 AM - Countdown to Vancouver News Update
12:03 AM - 1:30 AM - 2009
1:30 AM - 3:00 AM - 2008
3:00 AM - 4:00 AM - 2005

Photos From My Arizona Trip

I never really posted the links from my Arizona Trip. I did get some great photos in the Grand Canyon and Sedona.

Check the pictures out Grand Canyon and Sedona

Looking back on 2009

I thought I'd post a random list of things I'll remember from 2009:

1. Visiting the Grand Canyon and Sedona with my family
2. Changing my son's daycare and the positive effect that change has had on him
3. Ironman Arizona
4. Winning Brian's Beachside Boogie
5. Dave from Elite Bicycles turning my cracked frame into a new bike
6. Coach Eric's December Strength Challenge
7. Winning my fantasy football league
8. Watching my son mature and develop his own quirky personality
9. Firmman Half-Ironman
10. Sunday runs with Michael, Saturday rides with Force Five Sports

Happy New Year

I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy 2010 and thank all of you out there who helped make 2009 a year to remember. I know that it was a challenging year for a lot of people and I'm thankful to be surrounded by a group of friends that are positive, cheerful and engaging, both in and out of sports.

I hope 2010 brings you all that you are hoping for.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Daniel Snyder- Out Al Davising Al Davis

After watching last night's horrific 'game', one thing became clear to me.

Daniel Snyder is doing with the Redskins what Al Davis did with the Raiders. I'm not the first blogger this year to compare Snyder to Davis, and I certainly won't be the last.

It's even a little ironic that the Raiders have gone 3-2 in their last five games while the Redskins are 1-4. If the Raiders aren't careful they'll 'fall' out of the top ten- for the 2010 draft. Amazingly Tom Cable has breathed some life into the team, or they are simply responding to basic football instincts- to make plays and win games. Not sure.

Going into last night's game the Skins had managed to go 4-9 while only being outscored by a mere 17 points (compared to the Raiders, whose net differential at 4-9 last week was -161).

I think that Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, and Ron Jaworski were as shocked as I was by the debacle. The Redskins had lost to the Eagles and then Saints by just 3 points each and then had throttled the Raiders. Despite the fact that Jim Zorn was clearly a dead-man walking the team had played well. So last night was an eye-opener.

This was an affront to the very concept of professional football, from Jason Campbell as helpless rag-doll to the Pop-Warner fake field goal that ended the first half in the exact opposite of a mercy-killing. The Giants scored so many ways and times I started having flashbacks to the Simms-Taylor era.

The story here isn't the players, or the lame-duck coach- OK, maybe that fake field goal was really his call, but after having someone else call all your offensive plays, maybe Jim felt he had to do something- anything- to get control over the Titanic that was sinking on its home field.

This is about Daniel Snyder, who is out Al Davising Davis.

It was Synder that brought in Zorn to call the offensive plays for the Redskins. Zorn, in fact, came in before the head coach. It was that ass-backwards decision to hire assistants that probably made every sane head coach candidate back away from the Redskins job, leaving it open for Zorn.

I admire the hell out of Jim Zorn. I remember when he played for those early (horrible) Seattle Seahwaks teams, how he and Largent and the rest fought and scrapped. Zorn is clearly a nice guy. I think he's a football smart guy. I also think he's not ready to have been a head coach, and sadly, his coaching career is probably ruined now by Snyder's treatment of the whole situation. And that's what really kills me about Snyder- in his petulant arrogance, he's taken a guy that paid his dues to the NFL and the sport by enduring- by really standing tall- for years as a symbol of hope for an expansion team- and emasculated him.

What Snyder did is classic Davis. First, you hire a guy to coach the team that hasn't even been an assistant coach. Then, when the results are as expected (not that great), you cut his legs out from under him by bringing in Sherm Lewis to call the offensive plays (except inside two minutes and some other conditions). In other words, you make it so the coach you initially hired to call plays on offense is powerless to run the offense. You're hoping the guy you gave the fat, long-term contract to will quit so you don't have to pay him the balance of his contract.

That's the sort dick move a manager at the fast-food restaurant pulls on a hated employee, switching them from days to opening and closing hoping they'll quit and not draw unemployment.

It's hard to know exactly how much of this is Snyder's fault and how much of it falls at the feet of Vinny Cerrato, who appeared to want a weak-willed coach during his tenure.

Then again, Snyder appeared to want a weak-willed GM, so maybe the end run around all this is to hire Mike Shanahan.

Problem is, Shanahan's already worked for Al Davis once, and we all know how that worked out. He might hesitate to do it a second time...

The real shame in all this is how Jim Zorn has been treated. Zorn clearly doesn't deserve this.

And neither do we. Last night's game was so bad- and I like the Giants- that it really was a historic low moment on MNF.

Any chance we can fire the owner ???

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christopher Martins 5k

The last race of the season.

So many races this year. Well, not really that many- things have changed for me and I don't race like I used to. Nowhere near as many, but then again, it would take almost 50 5Ks to equal the output of a single day's distance in the Ironman. Still, my first race was January 1st and here I was, trying to get up for one more race in mid-December.

The course was new. And as I would find out during the race, I didn't understand in the least the map that explained the course. I looked at it three times and it didn't help.

Worst though, was the bitter cold.

I stripped down to my bike jersey and shorts, arm warmers. The only concessions to the cold were the goretex gloves and the winter hat with the little tassel.

It was cold enough that when I started running faster, I started getting colder.

I warmed up with Charlie Hornak and we noticed the top woman was looking ready to race- Erin from Trumbull. We were wondering if we had what it would take to outrun her- she looked a lot more ready than either of us.

The starting line was packed. It's funny how when you're right on the start line at a mass start of the Ironman swim you think there's too many people, it's not fair.

And yet, I'll line up, on the line, or as it was this day, in the second row, and think nothing of it. There's no fear. I belong on the line and that's not arrogant. It's a numbers thing. There's probably 40 people on the line, and if I'm in the second row, that's means there are people in front of me that maybe shouldn't be.

We started out and I could tell we were going to start out easy right away. The top guys like Oscar and Bart from Athlete's Foot (second and third overall) were off the front, but there was a nice pack of people in sight. The race starts with a long run up some street, a long, flat run, always either into or out of the wind.

About a third of a mile in, I was thinking that lead woman was nowhere near me. She wasn't in front of me. I looked over my left shoulder. Not there. I relaxed fractionally. If it's a little misogynistic, forgive me. Intellectually, I appreciate, understand, and quite frankly am impressed as all hell by the fact that there are so many women who can leave me in the dust. At the same time, I have no desire to go out and be beaten- in a running race- by women. I'm old. It's a shortcoming.

I looked over my right shoulder.

She was about six inches from me, half a step back.

The race started to thin out after that.

Somewhere past half a mile, I was in a group of four people. One guy was leading the pack and I wanted to move into the second slot and establish my position well before the first turn. I'm pretty scrupulous about moving in and I'm sure I had room. I'm giving the guy behind me the benefit of the doubt that he must have thought I didn't.

He put his hand on the middle of my back. All five fingers. I could feel each one on my back.

He pushed.

I was so shocked that for about 3 seconds I had no reaction.

Then I said about what you'd expect if you know me. Then I went back to running.

We took the turn, still in a group. The next turn is almost immediate and sends you back down the way you came, maybe one block over. We hit the mile mark- which was long- and were at like 5:50. The youngest guy in our group immediately broke ranks, disappointed I guess in the 'slow' mile.

Then it was a lot of back and forth. All four of us tried to assert ourselves, none successfully.

After that, the turns started. I was lost pretty quickly, and confused. The map's course was in my head, but we were making turns that didn't track with what I thought I knew. Then at about 1.75 miles we hit a tight turn and there was a lot of ice around the turn, so I had to hop the ice, extending my right leg out long and bound up high. I hit the ground hard and I swear it took something out of me energy wise. That exertion was just enough...

We keep jockeying.

At one-point the back-pusher managed to elbow me as well, not hard, but I mean, it was two miles into the race. There was a grand total of one person next to me.

Oh well.

And then, we were running back towards the starting line, in the opposite direction, going to cross the line.

I saw a photographer on the side of the road and the back-pusher (again, I'm sure he felt like he had to push me in the back for his own safety- or something) was in front of me. I surged to get in front of him for the pictures. I might not beat him to the line, but I would beat him to the pictures, if I could.

And then it was the final run to the finish.

I had two guys in front of me, including the guy who pushed me and I knew- knew- he was in my age group.

I tried. I gave it everything. But two days of easy workouts and an Ironman three weeks earlier were just too much.

I got beat by four seconds, I finished 4th in my age group.

I'd run 17:54 and finished 18th overall. It was my first time in the top 20 since 2005. I should not have been unhappy with that.

I was 4th in my age group by 4 seconds and I let a guy who pushed me beat me.

Of course I was unhappy.

Then I downed a very good beer, ran a warm down with Charlie Hornak and Dick Korby. And had a second beer.

And then, I wasn't so unhappy anymore...

See y'all next year at the races.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Jon Gruden

Monday Night Football has certainly improved- in the booth at least- this year. Of course, it wouldn't be hard to surpass Tony Kornheiser.

I assumed Kornheiser had been shown the exit as a result of his lackluster performance. This is because as much as I love the game of football, I apparently lack the interest to read a few articles about the staff in the booth on MNF. I had no idea that Joe Theismann had been forced out of the booth (certainly he was far better) or that he and Kornheiser were Washington area-rivals.

What I do know is that I was sitting watching Monday Night Football and I was actually thinking about how Gruden was doing a good job when he trucked out one of the most irritating phrases/concepts in the game.

"He may be the best in game..."

If you took every guy that any commentator nominated as 'best in the game' or 'best at his position' or as being a guy that 'nobody does it better than', and put them all on one team, the rest of the NFL teams would be scouring community colleges to find enough talent to field teams. Can't you just say the guy is 'good' at something ?

But just when I was ready to toss Gruden on the MNF trash heap along with Kornheiser and Dennis Miller (funny, yes, ready for MNF, not really), he continued.

He was talking about Charles Woodson and they went straight to a video of the 'Tuck Rule' game's tuck rule moment.

A few notes here:

One, Charles Woodson has forced 4 fumbles this year. It's the second time in his career he's done that. He's also intercepted 7 passes, one off the league lead of 8.

Two, anyone who knows me probably is aware that I still wake up in the middle of night bathed in cold sweat screaming at an imaginary TV that "it's a #$%^ing fumble."

Three, Gruden had not spoken once about the Tuck Rule all season to his booth mates, but he had the class to go right to the clip and deal with it- one of the most contentious moments in his coaching career. But also one that illustrates his point.

Because the 'tuck' was a fumble, and it was Woodson who forced it, as he's forced many fumbles over the years.

Gruden is a keeper, MNF.

Monday, December 07, 2009

The one that got away- Cow Chip

Six days after Ironman Arizona I found myself standing on the starting line of the Cow Chip Cross Country race in Trumbull.

Having won the race last year, I felt that I should go back and try to defend my win.

I was not 100%. I'd limped around Arizona for two days before I felt ready to even put 20 minutes of running in on Wednesday. I'd spun an hour on Friday and I was psyched for this, but I was also not really fully healed or ready.

When I went to sign up they told me they were expecting me to be there, but they'd put aside #1 for me, so I handed over my check (which Marty later ripped up) and pinned the number to my shirt- I'd forgotten my race belt.

My warm-up was limited to run out to the starting line and doing a few sprints. I ran into Charlie Hornak and we talked a little about the Branford Thanksgiving race. He'd had a decent race but was talking about building his speed. It seemed like we were out there early even though it was only about 10 of, then suddenly the mass of runners that had been avoiding the cold in the school cafeteria came out, followed by Marty on his bike.

Marty acknowledged a number of runners that were there- past winners and so on- and then we were off.

I didn't take the lead early. I'd spotted a couple of kids/guys I thought might be a threat. I picked my line to the goal post (the race starts on the football field, just like my old high school days), got there and I was quickly in third. The course takes a right, then a left and by the time we got to the backstop, I knew I had to pull in front and take control of the race.

Which I did.

I felt- good isn't the right word. I was running strong, but not really fast or anything. I was chasing Marty but then we went into the woods and I was leading a few people. The front pack had already thinned out and I felt good. I always feel good running through the woods. I feel like if I'm in front in the woods, you're really going to have to work to take that away from me.

We broke out of the woods. Marty's women's cross country team was supposed to marshall the course. Only two showed up. I came out at a point where you go right early in the race, and go left late in the race.

I didn't know which way to go.

Who's fault is that ?

Mine. It's my responsibility to know the course.

Bang, I was in third.

I settled in a second time. We broke out of the woods and I was third behind a guy I thought I could take late in the race and a guy I wasn't sure about. We went around the front of the school, by the barn, into a short section of woods and back around again. I could not eliminate the distance and get back in front.

We wrapped around the middle of the course and headed towards the stream/wall. the two guys in front of me went around it. I went around it. We were all within a few seconds of each other. As we went up a short hill, two of us made our move. The guy in second moved up to first and I moved up to second.

We went under a pavilion of some sort and then we were headed back towards the woods. My goal was to stay close and make a move in the last 750 yards.

This was the wrong strategy. I didn't lose any ground in the woods, but I also didn't gain any, and after we broke out the backside of the woods, I did try to pick it up.

But in the end, it was too little too late.

When the winner crossed the line, I shut it down and lost another 3-4 seconds, but my calf was hurting.

I had not done my job. I could have, in my opinion, but I didn't.

I warmed down with Charlie and an Australian guy who was also a previous race winner, then I hopped in the car right away and drove home so Margit would have some time to do some things.

This one had gotten away.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Ironman Arizona-Highs and Lows

Lows:
Lying in a pool of my own sweat, wide awake, seven hours before race time
Treading cold water for 10 minutes waiting for the race to start
That crippling cramp in my right calf during the swim
That second cramp
Getting out of the water and not being able to sit down to take off my wetsuit
The hypothermia that lead to a 7:20 T1
Mile 20 on the bike, when my right nostril was so plugged I thought there was a Clif Shot Rok wedged in it
Mile 40 on the bike, when an ill-advised shorts adjustment made it feel like someone had stuck my junk in a blender and hit puree
Mile 80-100 on the bike, where there was a lot of drafting
Mile 2 on the run, which was an ill-advised 7:15
Having to stop and pee on the run
Knowing I was way over 10:30

Highs:
Surviving the cramps
Exiting the water
Running past people trying to mount their bikes 1 inch over the mount line.
Getting on my bike
Seeing my family at the turn around
Easy peeing on the bike
Going 38 mph for a while on the bike
Drawing a drafting penalty on a competitor after getting props from the official
Getting off the bike
Running the first two miles in 14:45
Passing the point where I cracked and walked in 2007, not once, not twice, but three times
Running the entire marathon
Sprinting to beat two guys at the finish
Finishing
Steve having a great race
Talking with Kurt Eggers after the race

and
The Grand Canyon trip the day after
Sedona

Monday, November 30, 2009

Ironman Arizona-The Run

I came in off the bike and grabbed my bag from transition. Once again, there was no thought of going into the tent. I changed quickly into my running shoes and visor- I decided on the free Tribike Transport visor because it matched my kit, and hey, it was free. If I needed to toss it, I would toss it.

I did stop to try and use the port-potty. I peed a little, but mostly wasted 45 seconds.

Then I ran out and asked which direction was out.

'Through the tent.'

It was my only time all day in the tent.

I ran through quickly, located the sunscreen people and said 'Face, back of neck, arms, legs. And hands.' I'd had the exchange planned while I was still on the bike. After the sun poisoning that I'd gotten in my first race here, I'd sprayed sunscreen all over myself before the swim, and knew I'd need more on the run, as almost my entire run would be under the desert sun.

I'd put my watch on for the run and started it as I went under the arch at about 6:38:30.

I saw Steve almost immediately and began working to real him in. I got to the mile mark and he was close, but problematically, I'd run a 7:30.

Way too fast.

I went through the first water stop. I needed endurolytes and had just taken a GU. A volunteer actually followed me into the aid station, asking what I wanted, which I can't tell you how much I appreciated, as I'd later get stiffed at three different aid stations. I told him I needed water and got it, downed the endurolytes and kept running.

I caught Steve on the bridge and asked if he minded if I ran with him for a while. He said no, but we were running at different paces, and although I wanted to slow down and work my way into the marathon, I just couldn't do it.

I ran the second mile in about 7:15.

Huh ?

Yeah.

I did slow it down after that, although mile 3 is a downhill mile. If you've never seen the course, it's kind of amazing. They've managed to pack an entire marathon into a course that only covers a few miles of roads. You run out, over the river, er lake, um why can't we just call it a canal ? then back over the water again, through transition, down to the next bridge, over that, run a loop that takes you to both the biggest hill and the biggest downhill on the course, back over the second bridge, and back past transition.

Three bridges and you run on both sides of the water. The biggest negative about the run is that too much of it is on concrete.

Over the third bridge on the way out, I saw Eric and he told me I looked solid, or something like that. I waved, slightly.

The real test for me was at about 4 miles. Over the second bridge, on the way out, was where I'd cracked last time I did the race, where I'd ducked into the porta-potty and tried to go, then come out and walked.

There was an amazing amount of shame in that for me. I never really got it, to the point where I had to go back and do the race again primarily because it had beaten me once and I couldn't accept that.

I ate a GU as I ran by the potties, grabbed a water and downed some endurolytes and I never slowed down. Was I a little afraid of the aid station ? Yeah, I was. The knowledge I'd cracked there-

And then it was just another spot on the run and I was past it.

I took it easy up the hill. Then, because of my leg, I took it easy on the downhill.

As I was coming back to the bridge the lead male's entourage was catching up to us. It's kind of tight on the path and I was yelling at people to get out of the way of the motorcycle. 'Come on, it's the lead male. He's already won Canada. Get out of the way.' The truth is that a motorcycle probably shouldn't be on the run course when the run course is a pedestrian path, but that's how it goes. I think he was double-lapping me.

That's DOUBLE-lapping me. Ouch. Humble much ?

I made it back into transition. I was low on GU- only had three, and I took one at the loop marker and then it was out again towards the arts center. I was running OK, but not great. I was really happy to be on the second loop.

It was cool at the long fountain by the art center, and then I was working my way up through people. Even though wasn't running especially well, I was passing people. I got down close to the hotel we were staying at and back to the aid station with the uber-helpful guy. He again escorted me in to the area where I got the water I wanted so I could down more electrolytes and it was back on the bridge again, one of the bigger 'uphills' on the course. By now I was running with certain goals in mind.

Then at about 10 miles the 5th place woman passed me. I know because she was escorted by a mountain bike. When you're the 5th woman, there's no motorcycle and camera, I guess. She passed me, but then she didn't gap me. I was actually getting annoyed. I was still trying to keep my effort steady, and didn't I have to be running harder to not be getting dropped by a pro woman (who had just lapped me) ? Yeah, it's a weird sport. Then, I realised what he problem was as she ducked into a porta-potty. I never saw her again- and I unlapped myself !

Does the Ironman have a scrap of mercy ? No. While the 5th place woman was in the crapper, she became the 6th place woman as the former 6th place woman went by me.

She did drop me.

Eric likes to break the marathon into ten miles, ten miles and then 10K, and I think that's very useful. I have some benchmarks I work with as well- 13 miles, and for no real reason, 22 miles.

I saw Ian and Margit again on the run and think it might have been when I exchanged a high five with Ian. That was somewhere close to twelve miles.

I first took cola right before that, because I was out of GUs. The soda picked me up and then upset my stomach. The upset didn't last as long as the pick-me-up, so I went with it.

It was a big relief to hit the back half of the run course, if there is such a thing on a three loop course. I saw Eric again and he was- as always- nothing but positive energy. Shortly after I saw him I was again headed to that area I'd walked at in 2007 and-

I was worried. I was hurting a lot more than on the first lap. Screw it. I went through with no difficulty and now I'd heaped dirt on this area that had beaten me in 2007. Of course, that uphill graded area of the course hadn't beaten me. I'd beaten myself- that and the sun poisoning and the desalination. Not this time. I ran through the aid station, took some more cola, and then I was easing my way up the big hill for the second time.

I wasn't feeling that great though.

I had to pee, but after I went down the biggest downhill on the run course, there was nowhere for it.

I was having a harder and harder time running. So I found a large utility pole- some monstrous grey metal thing, ducked 'behind' it, bent at the knees, and peed. If this is too gross for you, so be it. I didn't pull down my shorts. I just peed.

And then I started running again.

I felt a lot better. I went through the Inspiration Station and it didn't pick me up like it had the first time 'We love You'. Isn't that sweet. I was going to fast to see my message come up. After that I just concentrated on getting through the second loop and out onto the third loop.

I was so psyched to be on that third loop. About a mile in, getting close to the aid station, I found myself running with a guy and a woman that were talking to each other. They were on their second loop and I was on my third and yet I was having trouble passing them at first. Then I basically got tired of listening to them talk and passed them. I got more great service in the aid station, and was back out on the bridge- that bridge I'd be going over the last time.

The third loop of a three-loop ironman is a thing unto itself. It's liberating in that the end of the day is coming for you and yet, there is still a lot of work to do. I got stiffed at the last aid station before 22 miles, but when I got there, to 22, I really felt like I'd done my job, and put myself in a position to have a chance to-

Do what ?

When I'd left transition at the start of the run I'd set a goal- break 10:40. Not a lofty goal, but I just needed to run a solid 3:40 on one good leg to do that.

With four miles left, I needed to run about 8:00s.

I kept pushing through and ticking off the miles, but by the time I got to 25 miles, the numbers on the watch weren't adding up. I was not going to make the 10:40 mark.

Of course, as deadlines go, this wasn't killer. It wasn't the difference between qualifying or not qualifying, or between getting a medal or crossing the line with the lights out.

I had three people in my sites as we wended through the parking lot. Because Ian had run the kids mile run the day before, I knew what the finish line was set up like. I passed two of the three people I was trying to run down before I reached the final turn into the straight away. Then I had a dilemma.

The guy in blue and yellow I was trying to pass didn't want to be passed. He picked it up in a big way and went by him under the Ford black inflatable. There was no strategy. I just ran as hard as I could, and then it was over.

I had beaten him to the line, and while he tried to recover, I got my picture taken.

But I was whooped...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ironman Arizona-The Bike

I have never been so glad to be on my bike. Just surviving the swim seemed like a journey worth the trip.

When I signed up for the race last year, I thought that the winds would be less of an issue in November than April on the bike and that was not exactly correct. It was obvious right away that the wind was going to be a factor all day, although not as bad as April 2007. Having dealt with it before, I felt prepared. It was going to make the ride challenging both physically and psychologically, because no matter what direction it took, it would be in my face for a long way. I'm a fan of getting punished on the way out and enjoying the tailwind on the way back, so that was my hope.

I got my wish. As we worked through the early set of turns that take you out to the reservation, it was clear the wind would be in my face on the way to the turn around.

Eric had said to give our stomach 15 minutes before starting to eat, so I sipped at my Gatorade and took some Endurolytes. My legs were basically stumps. I couldn't feel my feet, my achilles tendons had no flexion, and my calf was still pretty sore. Of course, the cure for the calf was drop my heel and extend my pedal stroke to stretch out the calf muscle, except that I couldn't drop my heel...

My race almost ended around the time I first went to eat. As I passed one athlete, he decided it was time for a bathroom break- on the other side of the road. He started cutting across the road as I was finishing my pass and he nearly t-boned my back wheel. I was not happy.

I was relying mostly on Clif Rocks for solid food. In hindsight, a 50/50 mix of Rocks and Blocks would have been a better choice. The second banana I'd eaten that morning was also waffling between the good idea and bad idea columns. I think it's safe to say that two bananas and a Red Bull are probably not a perfect choice.

Once we started heading out to the reservation my early speed started to bleed away. Turning the pedals is an amazingly mechanical process. I was sore and a little discouraged, but I'd still managed over 20 mph out to Beeline Highway. That average started to head south as we turned into the wind. I looked down and saw I was going 14-15 mph per hour at some points, but I wasn't worried. I knew that I had what I wanted. Into the wind on the false flat out- it's pretty much a steady slight uphill grade out to Shea Road (the turn around).

The drafting wasn't too bad on this first loop.

I had to pee for the first time on the way out, probably 15 miles into the bike. The last time I'd done the race I'd gotten severely dehydrated (my pee started burning during the bike and continues to feel like fire for three days after the race). I could tell I was much better hydrated. I took turns with gatorade and water bottles all through the bike. The funny thing about peeing on the bike this time was that it felt hot coming out and on my leg, then cold as it got down to my left foot- which didn't actually need any more wet and cold.

I saw Steve Surprise coming back from the turn around, and he had maybe seven minutes on me. He was berating a group of people I was passing from across the road for drafting. I laughed and tried my best to do some math. I didn't think I could make that up in a single loop, but it did invigorate me a little bit. I worked through the turn, starting now to dump water on my head and chest (but careful to keep it away from my feet) to keep my core body temperature from elevating.

I was eating every half an hour. My nose was also running and I was frequently blowing it- the sinus infection was making its presence felt.

As soon as we'd crested the hill at the turn around, the effect of the tailwind and the downhill combined. I hit 36 miles per hour- this is supposed to be a flat course, right ? Let me tell you I've never hit 36 mph in two races at Ironman Florida. This is not that flat a course.

The ride back was fast until we got off the reservation. Once you made the right at the gas station things slowed down a bit as you were riding into the cross-wind.

My feet were starting to wake up but my right side was sore because I was using my hip to do the work that my leg was supposed to be using. There was already salt on my legs- I was taking endurolytes every half an hour as well. I just kept grinding out the first lap and before I knew it, I was looping back out.

I saw Ian and Margit as I headed back out on the second loop. They were cheering me on, but I knew Margit could do the math and would know I was not in a great position at this point.

Eric really pushed the idea in the pre-race meeting of not pushing too hard on the bike. 'You should feel a little bit guilty', Eric said. 'Like it's a training ride.' I tried my best to stick within that, while also working on moving up.

That's the hardest part of the bike for me- moving up. I'm dead serious about not drafting. Because I come out of the water so far in arrears, I am faced with the frequent need to pass people. That requires a little more work in some cases than I'd like to do. Over 112 miles, there's a lot of situation where I have to get out of my rhythm to stay within the rules.

It was also clear on the second loop that continuing to eat was going to be a challenge. I had the bike computer as my only clock to keep track of the thirty minute intervals. I was basically keeping a package of something open at all times and eating one at a time (block or rock). That was helping quite a bit, but I realised I was drinking a lot of water- almost as much water as gatorade. You go with what you can stomach. I noticed my speed dropping to around 18 mph going out on that second loop- the wind was still in our face and I was trying to just stay aero. My feet and legs were warming up and I was getting some heel drop extension.

I knew my leg would hurt on the run...

The bike computer has some kind of issue with the right control button- likely gatorade has been spilled on it. The button sticks sometimes, including during the race. The computer started switching- at random intervals- from one function to the next. Sometimes it was cadence. Then trip distance. Then speed and average speed. Speed and max speed. Cadence usually came up when I was going uphill into the wind...

Steve maintained most of his lead over me during the second loop- he went by me going back from the out and back after losing only about a minute. I got to the turn, babied my way around the cone, and picked out 'tall guy' for my water. As in 'You, the tall guy' and a point. I like to identify the volunteer early- I've seen too many feed zone crashes...

I hauled some ass on the second loop back as the wind was at my back again. I missed one bottle exchange and I was still struggling to eat everything, but getting it down, along with endurolytes.

I was still sore. My hip was complaining about the extra work I was giving it because of my right calf and then my groin was starting to hurt as well.

I could tell on the ride back into Tempe though, that the wind was shifting. This was bad news. I had an idea that it would be at our back on the way out on the third loop, which was not a good thing. I'd done this last time in Arizona- fought the wind coming back on that third loop and gotten off the bike fried.

The ride back in was uneventful. I was still moving up but of course, not passing as many people and there was some jockeying- I'd pass someone who'd pass me back or visa versa, and I was starting to get close to some packs.

I went around the loop back in Tempe and was out for the third loop. I was almost glad I didn't see Ian and Margit again. It can be very emotional, seeing your family like that, especially when you're maybe letting them down. I needed to concentrate, find my centre and get something done out there.

I almost didn't finish the race and concentration was what saved me.

I was early on in the third loop when I took a right hand turn. I was aggressive in the turns all day because I was seeing a lot of grandma riding in the turns. I went wide, then settled in. The guy in front of me was going maybe two miles an hour slower and I was just thinking of starting my pass when-

He stopped. There were five porta-potties on the side of the road and the guy decided to just, well, stop. In the fraking road. Not pull off, not give a hand signal. Just stop.

You reaction time ? You've spent an hour and twenty minutes in 61 degree water. You've been riding about four hours and ten minutes. You were up with a fever the night before.

You swerve.

Somehow I made the move I needed to make.

Later, as I was peeing (#4), a guy came up to me and said 'That was a sweet move back at the bathroom. I closed my eyes.' He was sure we were abut to have a three bike (or more) pile-up.

The third loop was the one where I did have an issue with groups drafting. Once on the way out and twice more on the way back I would find myself dropping to let an entire drafting group go by and then accelerating to around 28 mph to pass the whole group. I never hit thirty on any of these accelerations- I didn't have that left in me.

I'd gone through the turn around far enough behind Steve that I knew I wasn't catching him. And as I'd expected, the wind was in my face on the way back- no 30 mph speeds, more like high 20s. After the second acceleration and before the third I caught the eye of one of the officials and he gave me a nod and a smile.

An idea formed.

The next time the pack attacked me, I went with a quick counter and went much harder than the other two. I splintered the group, drew a few people in and next thing I knew, the motorcycle pulled up and the guy behind me was headed for the penalty tent

Sweet justice !

I rode back into Tempe somewhat exhilarated, but my right calf was still sore and I knew one thing.

It was going to be a long run.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ironman Arizona-Pre Race and the Swim

I'm a big proponent of a good night's sleep the night before the Ironman.

I am not a big proponent of lying in a pool of my own sweat, nose running, unable to sleep for two hours.

After swimming in Tempe Town Lake Thursday and Friday I'd noticed some nasal congestion, but mostly when I got up. It was serious enough that I was considering skipping the Saturday swim. But the need to get that open water feel and also weather the cold one more time trumped worries about the bacteria in the lake.

Unable to sleep, sweating, nose plugged
I would have liked to had that decision back.

I did get about three hours of solid sleep.

I was up by 4:45 am. I ran for ten minutes with Steve Surprise, ate breakfast- two bananas and some coffee, plus a few handfuls of Fruit Loops, then Steve and I took the shuttle from the hotel to the race. It was dark and a lot colder than when I did the race in April.

Steve and I stayed together for a while, then he went his way and I went to the bathroom. This gave me a chance to catch up on some decent music, read a few tweets, and an article about Apple bringing flash to the iPhone, get body marked. Then it was back to the bathroom, with time to drink a Red Bull, down a Gu, and get my wetsuit on.

Being on the small side it's easy for me to worm my way through a crowd, squeeze under railings, and get to the water. But when I got to the canal wall, my desire to get in the water was minimal. They were encouraging us to do just that, jump in, get it over with, as we'd have to do it anyway. But I knew every minute in the water would only make the swim harder.

Finally, I jumped in around 6:50, and started swimming to the start. The water was every bit as cold as I'd remembered and my hands and feet immediately started to suffer. I tried getting up on the wall of the canal but that didn't help.

Eric had told us to get to the middle if possible, but I couldn't. I was on the outside with no way in because we were all treading water and even out near the wall, just a few rows back from the buoy, I was having trouble finding somewhere to tread water where no one would kick me.

I don't get it. Why do people in the water think it's okay to kick you. Sure, everyone is trying to do the same thing, but I wasn't kicking anyone...

That's just how it is. Finally, the mayor of Tempe gave a few inspirational words- the guy is part comedian, part motivational speaker. Then we had the national anthem.

Then the cannon went off.

All the people still standing on the wall jumped in and we all started swimming.

At first, it was not bad. I was finding water with my numbing hands and feet. For the the first three minutes I was swimming mostly head down, not having too much trouble.

Then it got to be too tight, too close. I was unable to keep my head down without risking being constantly kicked. As soon as I get my head up like that, my breathing goes south and I start hyperventilating, which makes it impossible for me to get my head down, which...

Eric Hodska, my coach, had said if you were having trouble to just go stand on the wall.

This saved my race. I swam over to the wall. I climbed up on it, adjusted my googles and walked a little bit. Hey, it's a race. Keep moving forward, right ?

About fifteen seconds later, I jumped back in. I had clear water. I started to swim and had no problems until the turn-around.

Meanwhile, my feet were getting really numb. My calves were twinging because my achilles tendons were completely contracted. I was worried. I worked my ankles and toes as much as possible but I knew my calves were in danger of massive cramps..

Because of the shape of the course and the fact that I was on the outside of the pack, some buoys were close and some were far away. I kept trying to work inside but the same two or three guys kept getting in my way or hitting me every time I tried to make a move.

The swim out to the far buoy in a one loop swim is forever.

Finally, I got there. People were cheering when they hit the turn around. This really pissed me off. Stop cheering and keep swimming. The people who swim at my ability in the Ironman seem to always slow down and gather themselves at the buoy, which makes this the most dangerous part of the course and also pisses me off. Why can't they just keep swimming. The increased congestion leads to a lot of unnecessary contact and-

Sure enough, I got knocked around and my right calf cramped. It exploded in pain. I kept swimming. What else could I do.

It was a terrible cramp, lasting about three minutes. Then finally it eased. An unbelievable sense of calm like I have never felt in an ironman swim came over me when the cramp eased. I have literally never been so at ease during a swim.

Then the calf cramped again.

I also felt a series of twinges in the left calf. I fought to stay clear of anyone and it passed.

The swim back was a confusing mix. I was just yards away from some buoys, I was at fifty yards away from others. There were people everywhere, although I seemed to be keeping pace with a group.

We finally went under the bridges and then around the last buoy.

The swim in from the last buoy was epic- long, difficult, confusing. I seemed to be on everyone's right.

Then suddenly I was on the stairs, hauling myself out. I could not walk, I could only limp. I had to take my wetsuit off standing up. The volunteers didn't like this but if I'd laid down and they'd pulled on the leg of my wetsuit the calf would have erupted.

I stumbled on wet feet to the bike to run bags. No one could find mine so I did it myself, then I changed outside the tent where it was light and I could see what I was doing. I slipped my cycling jersey (the pockets loaded with food and electrolytes) on, put on my helmet and sunglasses but forgot my gloves.

I was angry and upset and wasn't sure if I wanted to scream or cry. Another 1:20 + swim. Frozen feet. A seriously injured leg. I'd been here before.

I found the will to run to my bike, then run out of transition with it. While people started trying to mount their bikes standing still, on an uphill, an inch over the mount line, I ran. And ran. More than 100 yards, out onto the street. Then I mounted near the turn and started pedaling. Neither foot was clipped in but I didn't care.

I was on my way.

Behind where I needed to be. Sore. Cold.

And my nose was running...

None of that mattered now. Now I could ride.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ironman Arizona-FIrst Thoughts



It's been a long two days since the race. Usually I'm on the blog right away, doing my best to get everything recorded before it all fades from memory.

Then again, I'm not usually driving to the Grand Canyon less than 24 hours after I finish an Ironman, so you'll have to forgive me if it takes a few days to get through the race report.

First and foremost- this was not the race I wanted to have. When I left the bike to run transition at 6:58, I knew it was over. The real time that I wanted to beat would not be beaten on this day. I adjusted my goals on the fly, but that 10:40 was not the time I was looking for when I lined up, or rather when I jumped into Tempe Town Lake and started to suffer.

Second- this race was HARD. The cold water, the crowded course, the wind on the bike. It was not an easy day until I got to the run, and by then I was spent.

Third- I really did have a good season this year. If you can have a good season without acing your A race, or if you can go and have some great time with your family before and after the race without throwing out a total dud on race day and be overall happy, then I'm glad I came out here and I look forward to doing it again.

More later, and thanks to everyone who sent emails and tweets and good wishes my way.

Hope I didn't let y'all down...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Last thoughts

Time to hit the hay- well, in half an hour or so.

I'm not nervous and I'm not quite resigned either. I tend to go into a race with a pretty low-key attitude and I'd just like to be able to get out there and well, basically, have the swim over with. Once that's out of the way, I'll be happy. There's a liberation for me when I get on my bike and the fun begins.

I hope everyone else I know here has a great race.

No matter what happens, I'm sure I'll have something to write about on my blog tomorrow...

Friday, November 20, 2009

How cold is too cold, or Tempe Town Lake equals Brrr....

I look back now on my last ride in Connecticut, a three hour misery-fest in 50 degrees and rain and suddenly, it seems like great training for the Ironman Arizona...

...swim.

Yes, that's right. With the water now officially at 63- and I'm betting on 62 on race day, there's no question the water is cold. And it's not a cold, but just a little for the first five minutes. It's just plain clod. And that's something as an athlete that you have to be willing to deal with on race day.

The water is not going to magically get warmer. Your hands and feet are going to get cold. Two swim caps might be a good idea. But you can't get in and try to take it easy either. It's not like a training ride on the bike where it's cold so you keep the pace mellow. You have to go as hard as you can and keep your head down.

That's the one thing I'm really going to have to work on- keeping my head down. With the cold, my calves will want to cramp, but with the muscles tight, lifting my head up and arching my back is the best way to make that happen. No, it's all about keeping my head down, staying focused on moving buoy to buoy and not letting the fact that the water is cold and murky make me unhappy.

It's not the swim I'd like to have.

But it is the swim I'm going to have. So I'll take it, and like every Ironman one of the happiest moments will be when I get out of the water and the swim is over...

Happy Birthday Steve !




We celebrated Steve's birthday at Benihana's last night.

Arizona in November



At 7 AM this morning, two days before race day, the temperature is 48 degrees.

By any standard, this is cold for the start of the race. Add that the temperature of the water is only 64 degrees and you start to wonder what your thinking was that you were going to be racing in the heat.

I don't like cold water. I did Muskoka one year- June in Ontario. The stated water temperature was 54 degrees and this was, if canadians are capable of such things, a lie. I was disoriented when I exited the water.

This is nowhere near that bad, but swimming without a wetsuit yesterday, I wasn't too happy.

Of course, the truth is there will be 'heat', which is to say that it will get up into the mid-to-upper seventies during the bike and the run. And with the stronger sun here, it will get hot. I certainly was sweating in the middle of the day while I was standing around waiting for my bike, which TriBike Transport did a great job getting here.

Overall the village was very well organized and if everyone had not wanted to check in at the athlete registration at 10AM yesterday, which is no fault of the venue, things would have been perfect.

But the four hours I spent at the village waiting for one thing or another did make it clear- it will be hot. Just not in the water or at the beginning of the bike...

PS- the race does not climb that hill. It's just a cool hill. Maybe I'd place better if we did climb it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Last Ride

My bike was shipped off to Arizona Tuesday, but I still had one long ride left. A three hour jaunt in low B today on my other T-Class.

I was not especially looking forward to it, both because of how great my own bike felt last weekend and because I'd started to think the soreness in my ankles/feet came from the fact that at its lowest my seatpost was still too high on the T-Class and I've been too lazy to saw the post. Add to that the forecast- mid-50s and raining and there was quite a bit of thought of spinning inside.

But I looked at the forecast and it was mid-fifties, with around a 50/50 chance of rain. I stepped outside and it was not really that bad. It had hardly rained at all since I'd gotten up, just sprinkles really.

I decided I would bundle up and give it a go. Deep down I knew that an outdoor ride and run was probably the way to go. Let's face it. I'm not just willing to spin- I enjoy it. Popping in a Spinervals versus riding in the rain for three hours ? It's a no brainer. Sweating in the basement or suffering in crap weather ?

So I did the thing that wasn't easy because I knew that was the whole point. After this, it will be a long stretch of weeks before I willfully go out and ride in the rain again, since my next race after Arizona is Lake Placid. Next Sunday won't be easy. Or if it is, it will be a waste of my time.

I didn't have any solid food, so I swung by Soundrunner, but it was a few past nine so they weren't open. I went back by my house and I'd already done 10 minutes of my ride. I headed out the usual way. The wind was blowing in my face and although the sun was peaking through the clouds it was raining. I gave up the thought of making it all the way to Old Saybrook.

Good thing.

I went through Stoney Creek and hit a place where the road was flooded. But it was only about 6 inches deep. The bottom of my feet got wet. I evaluated how they felt, decided that it was warm enough that I could take being wet, and went on.

The next washout was at least calf high- on the bike. I rode through it anyway.

I turned around at the third washout.

If I'd had any sense I might have headed back home.

Instead, I rode back to Stony Creek and then hooked a right and headed for Route 1 and started to wonder if I could get to Guilford in an hour.

At 57 minutes, I was on the town green. I was wet, but my feet were holding up. I was starting to lose the feeling my right hand because I had no bike glove on (only could find one), but other than that I was fine. I was thinking about how I'd made the right choice.

Then it really started to rain, get dark, and the wind blow. I found myself turning my face out of the steady hard pelting rain.

I decided to go to Hammonassett, do the Meigs Point loop and come back home.

It got darker. It got colder.

I was damned if I wasn't, on my last training ride, going to make it to Meigs Point. I love time trialing in the park.

Somehow, I made it all the way to the Point in half an hour, about the normal time- only to find there was even a part of the park road that was flooded. And then I made it around the tear drop and what do you know- the wind was howling in my face, I had another 90 minutes to ride.

And now my feet were getting cold. I hit the red light leaving the park to turn left, so I decided to practice one of those Ironman skills you don't get to use every day. My tights constrained the flow nicely and my left foot really warmed up quite a bit while I waited for the light to change. The heat was almost too much of a shock..

I did a good job picking what to wear- the technical top under my cycling jersey and lightweight tights were keeping my core and legs cold.. My one hand was getting pretty numb. The other one, not so bad.

I worked hard when I could and worked steady the rest of the time. I tried not to think about how unlike Arizona this ride was. I tried to ignore how the drivers that were out were even less intent than usual in giving me space or even seeing me. I rode back up on Route 1 to avoid the flooded areas and with an extra part of a Hammerfest loop I managed two hours and fifty minutes of solid riding.

Sure, I had to take a five minute shower (and watch red welt form all over my arms, hands, feet and legs) to warm up before running- yes, on the treadmill- for 25 minutes.

Was it worth it ?

Definitely. A little last minute adversity just before a big race is just the thing to serve as a reminder...

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Running Too Hard in the Ironman ?

I went out for my last long- 4 hour- ride and run yesterday. I really wanted to get the run nailed down and watch what I was doing. Maybe because it was going on during I workout, I was thinking about Ironman Florida and how the 10:00 mark got away from me in the back half of the run.

Or rather, I was wondering if it had gotten away from me in the front half or the back half.

I had a good ride. I started out with Steve and two other people but at 90 minutes I headed out on Route 1, settled into my aerobars and really opened it up. I had a great ride, came back and stripped off my cold-weather gear and headed right out on my run. I wanted to test a theory.

I wasn't going to take any food with me, just gatorade. I wanted to eliminate a quick burst from a Clif Shot affecting how I felt- I wanted to see if I started to fade at around 15 minutes (what should be 2 miles).

My theory was that what was hurting me- what had hurt me in Firmman and my last kong brick and even in Florida last year- wasn't the back half of my run, but the front half.

It goes like. I get off the bike, get my gear on (I used a three minute transition yesterday to mirror what happens in the race), and start running at what I feel like is a good pace for me. Which is really how fast I feel like I can run running, not really how fast I should be running. That's because I do the vast majority of my running faster than I'm ever going to average in the Ironman, and I start out the Ironnman running at a pace that feels good.

It's no different than the way 5:30 feels fine for the first mile of a 5K, and then starts to feel like crap.

So I was interested in the 10-15 minute range. I was running well when I started and then sure enough, at around 12-13 minutes I started to fade a little bit. I dropped my pace by about 15 seconds a mile and lo and behold, the fade faded. That was it. The inevitable trough was not inevitable at all.

A little bit later I looked at my results from Florida last year. I started out running at a 7:10 pace for about the first 6 miles of the run. I finished the last 6 miles at an 8:23 pace. Now 8:23 pace isn't horrible, but who knows. If I'd started out at 7:50 pace, I might have come home at 7:50 pace.

Can I translate to Arizona in two weeks ?

Who knows...

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Getting Cold ? Not Really

While I was not looking forward to today's four hour ride- starting at 9:00AM, wearing booties (first time), gloves (first time), a jacket (first time)- it turned out to be a beautiful day to ride.

I don't like getting bundled up to ride. I'd rather jump on the trainer and climb Mt. lemon virtual with the heater blowing on me just to simulate the heat that's likely to be the issue in Arizona. And it's a bona fide pain in the ass to fish your nutrition out of that deep well jacket pocket.

You just tend to feel (or you get it in your head) that you can't ride fast, or hard or whatever.

And that's just bull. Maybe it was just having my bike back, with a working drivetrain and race wheels, maybe it was having watched the swim start of Ironman Florida, but I had a really good, solid ride today in blazing sunlight, beautiful blue skies with just a hint of clouds.

The leaves are down now and you get to see the countryside in a way you haven't seen it in a year- the air is crisp and fresh.

It was just an awesome day. And too cold ? No, not today.

Today was just a great day to be on a bike, and I was lucky enough to be out there for one more long ride.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Magic Mouse

I received my Apple Magic Mouse at work late last week. I'd ordered the mouse the day it came out after reading the description on Apple's website.

I'm a heavy-duty Apple aficionado, but that doesn't mean I jump on every new product Apple introduces. Part of that, of course, is that I can't afford to jump on every product Apple releases, but it's also because as much as enjoy using the Apple products I do use, they all don't speak to some want or need of mine.

I have a MacPro at work and I've been using the Mighty MOuse that came with it the last two years.

Yawn.

The little scroll ball. The fact that the first thing I had to do was disable the right versus left mouse regions and that straight press down. I just never liked that mouse.

But I used it because it was what came with the computer. But one look at the Mighty Mouse and I knew it was just want I wanted. Wireless. Sleek. Capable of accepting finger gestures on its surface. Metal underside- not a bulky mouse, but a thin, well-design pointing device.

It comes in a nice sleek clear plastic shell that I really thought was sleek. Then I read one blogger refer to it as a 'soap dish,' and that kind of stuck with me.

But about the mouse. Great precision. Wonderful feel. The hard work of scrolling that tiny ball has been replaced with mouse top finger gestures. Solidly built with metal and hard plastic components that have that long-term feel. I can really see this mouse lasting a while. The mouse even has a nicely implemented green 'on' light and a great on-off switch.

On the negative side, it doesn't support multi-touch. I'm seriously hoping that the truth is: it doesn't support multi-touch yet.

I recommend this mouse to anyone that has a mac mouse they aren't really happy with, or who wants something more. It's not the Logitech Nano VX, but it's a great mouse and a real step up to go from Mighty Mouse to Magic Mouse.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

No Such Thing as an Easy 2.5 Hour Run

I was a little surprised when I saw a two and a half hour run on my schedule for Sunday. I was hoping to be headed back to two hours from two hours and fifteen minutes.

To be honest, I hadn't run this long since IM Florida last year.

The run was complicated by a very late start for a Sunday run- 3:30 PM on the day the clocks went back an hour. By the 90 minute mark I was turning on porch lights on motion sensors as I ran by houses. But I was lucky, as our weather held for one more week, first for the five hour ride the day before, the the run itself.

I took two things away from this run.

The first was during the run itself, when I really felt like 'yeah, I can do this, no problem'. I was able to turn it up in the last hour and run with only a little soreness in a few places.

the second was what hit my when i went to shower (at 6:30 at night). There is no such thing as an easy run that long. I felt good during the run. I stopped at two hours, thirty minutes and fifteen seconds because that is when I got back to my house, not because I had to. But fifteen minutes later, was I just a little tired ?

You bet.

Not exhausted, but tired. Glad I only had a swim the next day.

Running two hours ? I do that all the time. Run two and a half hours ?

Only when my coach tells me to...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Crash !

On Sunday morning I got up and couldn't get my MacBook Pro's screen saver to stop. I had a spinning beach ball instead.

Force-quit didn't deliver any relief so I did a hard reset.

When it restarted, it got as far as the Apple logo, then crashed. I tried three more times and the same result. I tried booting from Tech Tools pro DVD I have but it was a few months too old to boot the new MacBook Pro.

Next, I booted from my Snow Leopard DVD. Ran Disk Utilities and repaired the disk. Or tried. The first repair attempt quite halfway through and the second quit right away. The drive name disappeared, replaced my a default machine name.

I had to reformat the hard drive even to install Snow Leopard.

This would have been a disaster, but I'd been using Time Machine to back my laptop up to a 2TB external hard drive. Except for having to drive to work to get the drive, it was amazingly easily.

When the OS X install finished, an option screen came up asking me if I wanted to transfer data from another mac or restore from a time machine backup. I plugged in the USB drive and two and a half hours later, I was up and running and I'd lost a total of one day's work (time machine incrementally backups once an hour when I'm plugged in at work).

That's pretty great- one day of lost work and that's it.

Time Machine rocks.

My Spin Setup

Just a photo of my spinning set-up...

Friday, October 23, 2009

One more last race-again...

I guess I just can't pass up the chance to run a four mile race these days in Branford.

On Sunday I was planning to run 2 hours. Which I did. I ran a 75 minute warm-up with @poycc. In the rain. And the cold. I think it was a little under 50 degrees the whole warm-up, and raining, and then the wind kicked in.

I was wearing light-weight lobster gloves, tights, and jackets for the warm-up but I stripped down to my tri-gear and arm-warmers and headed over to the starting line. The wind kicked up and I couldn't believe it, but I found myself trying to talk myself into the idea that I could actually run the race without resorting to being all bundled up.

And it worked. By the time the race started, as I stood on the line watching the guy with the grey in his hair tying his shoe seconds before the race started (and doing a poor job of it), I thought this would be easy. The countdown came and them we started out, running down past Lenny's and hooking a right.

There were five of us in a pretty tight group, jockeying for for position, the police car just in front of us as we headed past the Owenego and out towards the ocean.

We were running together and no one really seemed to be ready push it. Chris Stonier, who I know is faster than me, was i the group, but no one was giving the sense that they wanted it.

And frankly, I was feeling as good as I could for having already run 70 minutes, for being cold and wet and having ridden 5 hours and run 45 minutes the day before. In other words, I knew what I had- which was nothing frankly.

So I did what crazy old guys that are washed-up runners do when faced with superior talent but running in bad conditions near the front of the pack.

I attacked.

I had a chance to take the lead, to be the guy chasing the police car, and I took it.

What happened the rest of the race really might be immaterial. I mean, I suppose in some ways I was that guy you see lead out at a race with no chance of winning it and you think 'ah, kind of jerky' but then again, not exactly. I wasn't running out of my head or anything. I had a chance to grab the lead, and I took it

Maybe it only lasted 10 seconds, but it was great. I was running hard, not smooth but hard and there I was, out in front. Making the effort. I might not win the race, but I'd taken my best shot it at and it felt great to be there.

And then reality set in, I was passed. We went through a mile at 5:20 and then I quickly fell to fifth.

Other memories- the kid with the track flats that ran me down with a sound like a horse and how I asked him 'what the hell are you wearing ?' as he ran by and he laughed. How my hands went very uncomfortably numb about 1.2 miles into the race. The guy with the shoe tying problem and how he had to stop mid-race to tie his shoe again.

The futile feeling running a course I know so well and knowing I was running out of time and was not going to catch anyone, but just enjoying being on a training course in race situation...

Crossing the line in 23:37, fifteen seconds faster than my last last race before Arizona in much worse conditions.

I was glad I did it. Was it smart training ?

Ah, who cares...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

There is No Bonk

How desperate was I to avoid my 5 hour ride outside today ? Or rather, how much would I have preferred just to spin in the comfort of my basement, with an hour earlier start ?

About eight o'clock last night I texted Eric to find out whether it would be better training for Arizona to spin or head out in the cold this morning.

I've been working with Eric eight years now and I have called him for advice maybe a dozen times, mostly around IM time. I have never texted him.

Of course, I knew what his answer would be- it was silly even to ask. Bundle up and get out there, he replied.

I've done plenty of outdoor riding in the cold, and I'm not adverse to the cold. When I get a couple of beers in me and tell you about how in high school I used to run - while it was snowing- in track shorts and a half-shirt, it's not just the beer talking. I really used to do that- and I lived in upstate New York, where below zero was frequent, and it was fahrenheit.

But the truth is, if I had owned a trainer when I was 16, I would have put my three-speed on it and cut my running down to three or four days a week.

In the end, I didn't even bother with a heavy cycling jacket or booties, and I was fine.

In the fifth hour, I did a time trial effort. I'd separated from Steve Surprise, who had suggested at about three hours that I ride ahead and just turn around in an hour. I was on a tighter schedule. I did just that, turning around at four hours- an hour from home, and rode as hard as I could to catch Steve.

Only Steve had stayed on Route 1 when I'd veered off by the Surf Club. On the way home, I was chasing him and he was behind me, which was great because I never stopped working hard. I got home, disappointed I hadn't made the catch, put on my running shoes and headed out.

At first I was running really, really well, jamming along listening to 3 Doors Down.

For the first 4 hours on the bike, I was doing really well- 2 Clif Shots, 2 Clif Shot Blocks and three bottles of Gatorade,. But in the last hour I was going close to race pace and ate nothing and drank only 2/3 of my bottle.

What happened 14 minutes into my run was almost inevitable. I crashed, hard. A real bonk.

And that same biochemical deficiency that saps your strength, that makes your stomach turn over and your legs crash, also affects you mentally. I immediately went into hyper-doubt mode.

This is exactly what happened to me at Firm-Man (twice in the same run).

This is what happened to me last time in Arizona. In fact, this is exactly what I'm trying to build confidence to protect against with a long brick, and instead I'm proving I don't have what it takes to go long.

Too many of my long bikes had too little effort on the run.

I didn't sleep enough last night.

I'm going straight home, go in the house and lie on the floor for a while in a pool of self-loathing.

And then, I decided instead of feeling sorry for myself I'd eat the Clif Shots in the back of my jersey. I wolfed down five blocks (I dropped one).

Two minutes later ? The bonk was over. I ran another 35 minutes. I ran by my house to add on eight more hilly minutes. I remembered that bonks or no bonks, I had a good run and a decent race at Firm-Man.

I ended the run listening to 'Spybreak (Short One)' (the Propeller Heads from the Matrix) and that brought the following thought:

There is no bonk

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Getting Serious about Arizona

There's a point in every build-up to an Ironman where you realise that you have a certain number of weeks left, and you have some long workouts in your schedule, and they mean something. That's the point in the cycle when, like any other point in the cycle, no one workout will make or break your training, but the psychological lift of a good5 hour, 100 mile bike or 2 hour run really can carry all the way through to your race, can in fact remind you when you slip into a painful, unhappy place, that what you are trying to accomplish has been done- by you- before.

This is where I've been lately. I ran 2:15 a week ago Saturday (with a 4 mile race in the middle), rode 4.5 hours on Sunday then came back and ran 90 minutes Tuesday.

This weekend I rode 5 hours on Saturday, rode another 2:45 Sunday with a half hour run, ran 70 minutes Monday, then 2 hours on Tuesday. I added Spinervals Mental Toughness tonight- a great 90 tempo effort that delivers a red-zone punchline in the last ten minutes.

i can tell there's an edge here. On one side is the real danger- not that you'll be undertrained, but the opposite. Push too hard and instead of peaking you'll be so spent that you end up flat- Eric, my coach, talks about that in this post about swim training for Kona. I think among athletes who have a serious expectation for an ironman, the ones that don't plan to walk the marathon, overtraining is probably a bigger issue than under-training.

Nevertheless, the other side of the edge is that. That the training will be intense enough but not long enough or long enough, but not intense enough. I tend to think you can replace duration with intensity more easily than intensity with duration. Train long and slow and you will be...

Still, some of the long training needs to be moderated, which is why I've been mixing easy and hard runs.

I've been running 2 hours all year, starting in January. I'm not concerned about whether I've worked the run hard enough. And I've worked the bike hard, and now I'm getting in my long rides (or maybe long spin this Saturday...)

I feel like this could all work out really well. Of course, there are no guarantees...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Congratulations Eric

Congratulations Eric on another sub-ten Ironman. Eric ran a 6:28 last mile, just to be sure. Wow !

Just saw John Wilson finish as well.

Watching the championships is nothing if not inspiring.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Obesity and the Rest of Us and a New Jersey Race for Governor

I was reading an opinion piece in the New York Times yesterday about an attack ad (are there any other types ?) in the New Jersey Gubernatorial race. Find it here: Corzine Points a Spotlight at His Rival’s Waistline

BTW- why is an election for Governor (or Governour) referred to as a gubernatorial race ? Are the people running goobers ? Goober is a pretty derogatory term...

Where was I ?

In any event, a number of political analysts were weighing in on whether the advertisement is an example of fat bias that is over the line or whether it's a simple attack ad.

The question is perhaps more highly charged because Corzine and Christie are opposites- Corzine is a man who regularly shows up at 5K and 10K while Mr. Christie is, well, not.

Of course, obesity as oblique or direct criticism is as old as politics as we know it. Prior to the ready availability of cheap food, obesity was seen as a privilege of the rich, which is not to say that this was accurate, only that it was prevalent. The term 'fat cat' which actually applied to donors, not the politicians themselves, dates back to the 1920s. Fat Cats and equally fat pols have been paraded and trucked through endless series of political cartoons in the US and UK over the years. Even the memory of Churchill isn't enough to stop UK cartoonists from drawing on the image.

I'm not going to lend my weight to an analysis of whether the Corzine campaign is playing the heavy a bit too much with their advertisement. I don't live in New Jersey, and I'm not going to be pounded with the ad to the point where I'll feel as if I've taken a few stones to the skull.

But reading the article (which has actually been edited since I read it) and comments about it, reminded me once again about how divisive an issue obesity has become in a country that is unquestionably tilted towards it.

I saw the word 'freak' applied to Corzine and his level of fitness at in one point in the version of the article I read. I'll get back to that towards the end of this post.

Depeche Mode sings 'there's a fragile tension' and that's a great descriptive of how our society regards the issue of weight. Clearly, treating someone different because of their weight is not defensible.

If it's bias, that is. Rejecting a job applicant because of their waistline is certainly not appropriate. Consider air travel, however. Is asking a person who is too large for one seat, what Southwest Airlines calls a passenger of 'considerable size', bias against a person who is obese, or an attempt to not place other passengers in a situation where they have inadequate room to sit in the seat they have paid for.

Of course these are extreme ends of the issue.

As the girth of our society expands, the issue of weight has become much more sensitive and complex. The medical community is alarmed with our levels of obesity, and this seems perfectly rational given our spiraling health care costs, increased rates of Type 2 diabetes and an array of other health issues driven or exacerbated by the condition. And yet, as if the health effects of obesity are a political issue, there is a growing movement of people who claim that a cluster of obesity myths are part of an alarmist conspiracy, if you will, by doctors looking to cash in on a lucrative market, nutritional 'zealots' and fitness 'freaks.'

There has been a similar aesthetic backlash, with a growing, and pardon my use of the term, 'fat is beautiful' movement. I have trouble with this concept, given that many of the people in that movement are asking society to expand their definition of beautiful while simultaneously railing against 'thin is beautiful.' Personally, I find beauty to be a relatively narrow concept that most people don't fall inside- certainly including myself. I don't see beauty as a right people have, and I don't think there's anything wrong with not being beautiful. While I appreciate the nuances of self-esteem that are involved in perceiving oneself or being perceived as attractive, I think as a society we are better served by trying to simply determine how one generates sustainable self-worth.

For me, the whole issue is very hard to grapple with. I live a certain lifestyle that makes it easy for me to not have my weight be a major issue. I worry about putting on weight in the winter like a lot of people, but at my heaviest I'm not looking at a weight issue, except how five extra pounds affects my racing. I have friends that have medical conditions that make it difficult or impossible for them to manage their weight with the same ease (or at all).

Clearing judging someone as less mentally agile, less moral fit, or less capable of leadership because of their weight is wrong.

That's bias.

But ignoring obesity ? Pretending it's not an issue, viewing obesity as a 'lifestyle choice' doesn't service our society either. And so does allowing your voice to be discounted because you yourself do not have a weight issue, which is another tactic that's being employed these days. The 'obesity as a lifestyle choice' crowd is using the same tactics we see form people who reject global warming- that we as a society need to accept the way things are, that people who are trying to bring change are zealots, etc.

Somewhere between allowing a person's weight to affect our value judgements and pretending obesity isn't a medical issue that our society needs to address, somewhere between the business of obesity treatment on one end and the incredible economic pull of 'big food', there has to be a willingness to treat obesity not as a political issue where everyone heads for the extremes and makes dialogue impossible, but as a work in progress, important work.

I'll admit that when I hear people talk about 'weight bias' as the last acceptable prejudice, I just roll my eyes. I'm sure the GLBT community would like to dispute that. Weight bias certainly exists and definitely is wrong, but there's more to the discussion of weight and obesity in our society than bias. What drove it home to me was when one response to the article stated that weight bias wasn't the last socially acceptable prejudice because cigarette smokers are similarly discriminated against...

Wow ! I mean, wow !

So here's my take- the Corzine team can hide behind the fact that Christie is obese and throw their hands up and say 'Well, he's fat, and looks fat in the commercial- what's the big deal ?'

Cowardly. Low-minded. Indefensible.

In other words, a typical attack ad.

And treating unhealthy lifestyle choices as lifestyle choices and not working aggressively to combat them because we have been cowed and bullied as a society in becoming so paralyzed by our concern for people's feelings that we let them die rather than try to help them move in a healthier direction ?

That's indefensible as well.

It's not prejudice to suggest healthier eating and more exercise would benefit large segments of our society. It's not prejudice to suggest that obesity causes illness. It's not prejudice to suggest that people should eat less fast food, less sugar, or smaller portions.

And anything that people can voluntarily do to help reduce health care costs ?

Brilliant.

Let's separate how we treat people who are overweight from how we view- and attempt to address- obesity. And along the way let's not allow ourselves to be cowed into thinking that reducing treatable obesity is somehow a prejudice.

In other words- value everyone. And try to help them live longer while we're at it.

Kona

I'm giving a big shout-out to everyone I know who's racing tomorrow, including my coach Eric Hodska, Kramer and everyone else that's looking forward to fair weather and a fast course.

This is it, the big moment the sport holds its collective breath for. I hope it's a great day with fair winds and following seas for everyone, and that the stories that the day makes are the kind that can be told with smiles...

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Stony Creek Road Race

One more race before Arizona.

This time I decided to sign up for the Stony Creek Road Race a four mile run in Branford. I was planning to ride over to the race, run it, then bang out a four hour ride. But instead we got a real soaking overnight and with the rain still coming down half an hour before the race, I decided to park at the nature trail, do a 15 minute run into Stony Creek and warmup, then run a little over an hour and an half afterwards.

My legs were tired when I got there. I'd pushed a little harder during the week this week and I felt it this morning.

I'd said to Margit that it would all be easy if Jesse Efrom was there. Jesse, who works at SoundRunner here in Branford, is like that shutdown corner no one will throw at. If he's at any local race i this area, chances are you will get thumped. He's got real talent. Any thought of picking up another win at this race (and it's been probably a decade) went out with the rain water when I saw him.

I lined up and we got started pretty much on time, good news when you don't want to lose any time.

John Tolbert was one of seven or eight guys ahead of me early. I knew John would be my toughest competition in my age group and I also knew with a good run, he would easily beat me. He got a nice gap early, and I used it to pull myself away from a couple of early challengers and settle into sixth, where I would stay for the whole race.

At about half a mile, I found myself audibly chuckling at the degree to which Jesse was burying me. I lost a 5K to Jesse by 2:00 earlier this year. Granted, not my best race but he was first and I was second and he beat me by two minutes. Over 3.1 miles.

Ouch.

When we hit the first hill, me watching JT's back, any thought of a big comeback went out the window. Quads, hamstrings, calves, all were letting their presence be know, insidious. Because I'm hurting doesn't mean I'm hurt (apologies Coldplay). This was going to be a strength run and my goal after all was just to keep it under 24:00 minutes then run another 1:35, assuming I was at about 40 minutes total.

As I crested the hill and headed for the turn that would take us back onto Stony Creek's main road and headed out again, I saw jT show some hesitation in the turn.

There were wet leaves in the turn, a lot of them.

A not-so-subtle reminder of the change of seasons (although it was warm).

We headed back out towards the fire station, except we banged a left before it and started up the toughest hill on the course. It was clear to me by this point past 1.5 miles that I was just going to be working at holding onto sixth. But I was still staring at JT's back, focused on the guy in front of me.

We crested the hill and I got my two mile time shortly after that, which was followed by the race's big downhill, a long turning affair on 146 that we usually exceed 30 mph on our bikes. It was a little frustrating running along 146 here because I simply wasn't catching JT I was concerned in fact that I was not going to avoid being caught. I kept plugging away though and the truth is, I like this course and this run, so it wasn't all bad.

We left 146 and ran a short loop with another hill and then by the small bridge at the old mill there was a sponsor's sign- growyogacreek.com or something. My brain couldn't make any sense of the URL whatsoever.

Back on 146 JT's lead had grown. We had passed three miles and I knew that I had to open it up as much as possible.

I was working pretty hard for average results and could feel the number of long races I'd done in the last month, plus being woken up at 5:50 AM by my son. Still, I was holding my own. I got near the final turn back onto the street the finish was on and a woman yelled 'Go red.' I thought 'Damn. Someone must be right behind me.' Then I realised that I was red- I was wearing my Hammer Nutrition kit.

I turned onto the street and I couldn't see the finish. Although I run on this road all the time, I'd lost track that there are not one but two bends in the street.

Finally, I saw the finish and the race director JB was waving me in. The clock was in the high 23:30s and I managed to get in about 6 seconds under 24. After running that 23:54, I took off my chip, congratulated the guys that beat me, sucked down some Clif Shot Blocks and water, and started my run right back up.

I did get another hour and thirty-five minutes of running in and all in all it was a great workout, which is a lot more important right now than whether I ran well.

But I did have some fun on a course I haven't raced on in a long, long time.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Guest Blog- Brian Talon: Clarence DeMar Marathon Report

This race report was so good I wanted to share it with everyone- and congrats, Brian, on a great race.

Took the family to Keene, New Hampshire over the weekend of September 26, 2009 for the Clarence DeMar Marathon. It was a great weekend overall, Saturday was a beautiful day and Jen and I took the kids to Santa's Land for a visit with Santa and lots of rides and wild animals to visit. After the race number pick up in Keene, we met with friends Ben and Julie for dinner at the Olive Garden.....Back to the hotel to get the kids down and Emma was having a rough night with lots of crying until about 10PM.....not exactly the pre-race relaxing I was looking for but it is what it is especially with Emma's back molars coming in (Jen was much more understanding than I was). Ben and I were up well before dawn to catch the buses to the start. Before the race ran into some old friends from Somerville Road Runners and some new friends from the Thirsty Irish Runners (they are great at keeping you entertained and keeping your mind off the fact that you are about to run 26.2 miles - ask them about the textile free race)! Rained for the whole day on Sunday (race day), which was not necessarily a bad thing....the temps were cool and for the first 18 miles+ it was more of a drizzle that cooled you off more than being a nuisance. 18 miles and beyond it became more of a steady rain that started to waterlog the shoes just at the point when I was starting to get really tired anyway.

First 5+ miles were a net down hill with the rest of the course consisting of flat sections with lots of rollers. Wanted to go out in 6:45's for the first three miles and then settle into a 6:25-6:35 pace (with all of the rollers I realized that it would be difficult to maintain a consistent pace). The gun went off and there were a good 12 people or so ahead of me after a couple of miles. One runner was long gone, figured he was shooting for the low to mid 2:20's with the early pace he had set (was a bit surprised to see him again at mile 10 obviously running much slower - not sure how he finished). The first 5 miles were closed to traffic and we were treated to the start of some fall foliage with part of this section running along a slow running stream. Around mile six, I started to chat with a guy for a few minutes - he told me he was shooting for a 3:30 - told him he was out too fast so he slowed a little bit, hopefully it was not too late for him. Kept running along, chatting with a few folks along the way. Ran with the 4th place finisher for a couple of miles, nice guy who gave me the inside scope on the lead pack in front of us (included a 2:27 marathon) - decided I was fine with them dueling it out and I would maintain my pace. The 4th place guy also said he ran a 2:42 in Boston this year - so I thought best to let him fade away and continue to run my own race. Miles 13 through 18 were pretty uneventful; I was more just going through the motions without too much effort but pushing the pace just a bit. Somewhere around mile 18 I started to get that feeling that my glycogen stores were getting a little low. At this point in the race I needed to switch from "going through the motions" to making a conscious effort to keep my mind in the race. For miles 18-23 I willed my legs to maintain somewhere in the 6:20-6:40 range. Somewhere around mile 22-23 the race organizers threw in a cruel joke by winding the course over to a very steep hill that lasted a couple of hundred meters. I just took very short steps and kept moving forward. Not surprisingly that was my slowest mile of the race (6:51) but not as slow as I expected. What ever gas I left in the tank was pretty much gone after that hill and I still another 3 miles to go! Shortly after, I saw Jen, Lily, Emma and Julie drive by - yelling out the window in support….unfortunately I was not really in the mood for chatting but there presence was very much appreciated. Around mile 24 there was a right hand turn that I nearly missed, but fortunately noticed the arrows last minute (side note – the course was very well marked with volunteers at many intersections). Mile 24 (or so there was a slight downhill) so picked up a little speed on the pace (might have just been gravity working in my favor). The mile 25 sign came and I was toast, had no energy left in my body and unfortunately my mind (that kept me in the race the last several miles) was starting to slip as well. Still I am too damn stubborn to throw in the towel so I took my water soaked shoes one step at a time doing my best to thrust each leg forward as fast as I could. After what seemed to be about 20 minutes (from the 25 mile sign) I ran by another sign that said “only” .7 miles to go! I think I swore at that sign and it made me feel a little better. Shortly after, I turned onto the Main St. in Kenne….all I could see was orange traffic cones (indicating the finish) that seemed to stretch for about 12 miles or so. At the very end of the cones I could see a large group of people and thought to myself FINALLY, the finish line. Of course that would have been too perfect…..as I approached the group they all pointed me down another street to the actual finish line. I took that last turn hard and my mind was back in the race….100 meters to go and I could see the finishing clock at this point. My mind was ready to have a nice strong finish and get in under a 2:48. Unfortunately, my mind did not signal my legs of that plan. In my head I was running a lot faster than my legs were actually running so I must have looked pretty foolish out there with the top half of my body completely leaning forward with my legs doing there best to keep up. I had no form and was far from graceful at that point but finally crossed the finish at 2:47:54. I could tell I was not looking my best as about 5 volunteers tried to usher me over to the medical tent. I sat down for a minute, caught my breath and was fine a couple of minutes later – although I sure am happy that the marathon is not 27 miles because I cannot be sure what would have happened. Great day overall with good conditions, wish I had gone out the first three miles a little slower, might have helped me those last few miles. I pushed my limits in the race to the very edge and it worked out in the end. I learned lots from this race which I will apply to the next race and continue to improve the mental aspect of the marathon. Ben had a great race as well, hit his goal time of 3:30 on the dot and the Thirsty Irish and Somerville crews all ran well as too, an impressive feat since they all will be running between 2 and 4 more marathons over the next month of so. Before the drive home, we hit a local brewery for pub food and a couple of pints of beer.

My splits are below – as mentioned, it is hard to maintain a consistent pace on this course with lots of varied terrain. The splits alone don’t tell the story as the 1st half was much easier than the second.

6:21, 6:39, 6:22, 6:38, 6:22, 6:12, 6:14, 6:25, 6:17, 6:10, 6:20, 6:46, 6:16, 6:18, 6:17, 6:14, 6:26, 6:13, 6:26, 6:14, 6:20, 6:19, 6:42, 6:51, 6:13, 6:41, 1:24 (last .2 miles)

1st half 1:23:48
2nd half 1:24:08
Finish Time 2:47:54
5th place overall

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Niantic Bay 1/2 Marathon

I started this blog when I was getting ready to run Mystic back in 2006. That's what the Niantic Bay half-marathon started out as- Mystic Places Marathon.

The race is a good three weeks earlier than it used to be, and it utilizes only a small part of the course the whole marathon used.

I was standing at the starting line- the 5K had already gone off and we were waiting for them to get far enough out into the park to start. Next to me, one of the runners says to the eventual race winner Jeff Wadecki 'I ran 115 miles this week. I'll be i up to 120 next week.'

Huh ? I thought doing a 3 hour ride yesterday from 3-6 pm and riding 100 miles in two days plus running put me at the wrong end of the race prep spectrum and this guy had run 115 miles in a week coming into the race?

The race started a little late and it was still raining lightly. I wanted to go out hard the first two miles, then settle in and wait for the second loop. So it's no surprise that I found myself sitting just behind the EKG team and few other top runners thinking the same two things that I'm always thinking in these races. 'This doesn't seem hard at all,' and 'Man, you are running way too fast.'

Then the third thought creeps in and that's the accurate one ' you are about to get dropped like a rock.' And that's what happens. The quality runners leave me behind like a bad date (truth is, I may smell bad by a mile or so).

I was already starting to back and forth with some people by a mile.

You run a little over two miles in the park and I think this was about when I got passed by the leading woman. It wasn't too long before I was back in 15th or 16th place. The EKG guys and the usual other top runners were running away and there was no one else from Hitek, so I was running both for myself and as the lead runner for the team. Ouch.

There was a little wind in our face on the way out after we got out of the park and I felt like I was still jockeying with other people. The course is pretty flat but every elevation change reshuffled the deck. There's one real climb on the course, between mile 3 and 4. I took a Clif Shot in here and fond myself losing ground to a larger guy in white, a guy in his 30s in black and the lead woman. I tried to be patient as we passed the mile marker. Then another runner settled in behind me.

Right behind me.

I don't like someone using me as a wind-block, especially when he's about a foot taller than me. I started running on the yellow line, which was coned. That's probably, well, just dickish, but I don't like being tailed. I then picked up my speed and closed the gap between me and the three people I'd been losing ground on. I made up about 75 yards and when I'd dragged this guy across the gap he settled in on the back of someone who wasn't dodging cone.

We went back in the park and all four people started gapping me. The uneven effort had taken its toll. I passed six and just stayed focused, but I was losing ground. I hit the turn-around and Dick Korby said afterwords 'Yeah, you, uh, didn't look too good there.'

But I felt good and as we went out of the park, I settled in and started closing the gap slowly. once I passed the seven mile mark at the turn-around my plan had been to pick it up, and I did.

I closed down about half the hundred yards I'd dropped on these people by mile 8 and then I turned it on, opening my stride. I made a pass of the group- minus the guy in white- who would elude me the whole race- just at the 9 mile mark. I was running really well for me and the best moment of the race was when I went by and one of the runners looked at me and said 'Jeesh.' That felt good.

As we got into the back section of the second loop I saw a runner in a blue t-shirt in front of me. It looked like Steve Swift, but of course I knew it couldn't be. But it looked like him. But it couldn't be.

But it was. I'm sure Steve was coming off a big training week or that coaching is taking its toll on training time. I made the pass and then just ran hard.

I missed the mile 10 marker entirely. I saw 11 and I knew I was in good position. I had a good long stride going, I was dumping water over my head at the aid stations and took another Clif Shot. Once I hit Mile 12 back in the park, I tried to close down the people in front of me- the guy in white and Natali from Guilford.


That didn't happen. But I held my gaps on the people behind me, finishing up to two minutes in front of people I'd only passed at Mile 9.

I definitely had a really solid back half of the race and although my 1:23 was not a great half-marathon time, my run in last 4-5 miles and my 16th overall place were both things I was really satisfied with. I can honestly say that I was really happy with my effort, especially being the fourth 'long' race in 21 days.