Radical Immersion

Ironman Training with Life, Marriage, Children & Work

The Week Before

The week leading up to Ironman Coeur d’Alene was one damn thing after another.

At The Great Chesapeake Bay Swim my brand new wetsuit got a nick, and horror of horrors, a genuine rip across the knee.

After I bought the suit, I sent a note to the company thanking them for the quality and for their commitment to TriEqual.  The kind lady who responded, as well as forwarded the message to CEO Rob Canales, was soon on the receiving end of a frantic message about the rip in my suit.  She was empathetic.  She had ideas and bent over backward to find a solution in time for IMCDA.  After exploring several options, she sent me a tube of wetsuit cement with her own personal instructions on how to apply.  Four days out from travel, I patched the suit on the kitchen counter but not after the sticky black stuff splurted out all over my hands.  Crisis messily averted.  Onward!

A few days before I had been out on my last long ride.  A two hour saunter at Ironman pace and suddenly the disc cover on my back broke.  A few of the pins dislodged and a triangular shaped piece came flying off the cover near where the cutout is made for the stem.  I limped the bike home and after two days of assessing the situation bent to the obvious and removed the cover before packing my bike.  I had however called the Aerojacket people in California.  They cut and sent a new cover to my hotel in Idaho.  Onward (with hopes of it arriving in time for the race.)!

Then came the trip.  After a brief walk from one end of the Minneapolis airport to the other, Delta managed to fly me across the entire continent in the span of one morning.  Amazing.  Depart at 6.31 a.m. and arrive a little past 10.00 in Spokane.  Except I arrived without my bike.  The baggage claim guy — who looked like a teenager — was helpful, optimistic and just a tad overwhelmed.  I was the first of many in line looking for lost bags.  He promised to have my bike delivered to the hotel later in the afternoon.  I messaged home that I was safe, picked up the rental car and set a course east for the border.  About two miles before the border and within sight of the speed sign that announced an increase in the speed limit, I was pulled over and given a speeding ticket.

Thanks state trooper guy.  Not. At. All.  Onward again!

The rest of the evening was quite nice.  I got checked in without incident.  I took a lovely little 15 minute swim in the lake to shake out the effects of flight.  I met friends and fellow board members of TriEqual at an out of the way coffee shop.  I navigated approximately 40 minutes around the lake to find the Ignite Endurance crew having dinner at the home away from home of Nate and Leslie Miller.  Some two dozen people gathered for a potluck and to grill.  I saw a huge bald eagle soaring over the lake from the deck and met some very nice people all gearing up for the race on Sunday.

By the time I got back to the hotel my bike had arrived but I decided to wait until morning to put it together.  Saturday morning started with a calm 27 minute run along the Centennial Trail.  Breakfast and then bike maintenance.  Everything came together nicely but there was one brake I couldn’t quite adjust to satisfaction and the headset was a tad weak.  I packed everything up and headed to the race site.  A few minutes after the on-site mechanics opened up at 9.00 a.m., I was in line to have the bike checked.  I didn’t want to come down a mountainside with a wobbly headset.  I gave them my bike and learned they already had a three hour wait.  Onward!

I went to swim and listened to one of the several race briefings offered.  According to the race officials, the key piece of information was that they were planning for heat and we should too.  At more than 90 degrees at 11.00 a.m., this vital news was no surprise.  The bike mechanics finished early and I set off to test everything one more time — a 15 minute spin to set things right before turning it in for the night.  Within four blocks the screws holding the brand new disc cover in place started popping out.  I stopped abruptly and fixed it with spares.  I had traveled less than a block when two more popped.  I was stooped over the bike pressing them into place and wondering how I had defective hardware when even more popped out.  It was like fireworks without a fuse.

I ended up walking the bike back but the spinning of the wheel aggravated the fasteners.  After half a mile of walking while carrying my bike, I was back at the athlete village and the only explanation I could come up with was that the plastic fasteners were expanding in the heat and therefore not holding the threads of the screws.  Back to the mechanic.  I explained that my wrenches and chain whip with a couple miles away at the hotel.  He kindly took off the cassette, removed the covers and returned the bike to me without charge.

I turned the bike in at the transition.  I hurried back to the hotel to pick up my transition bags because that morning I had only planned to spend about two hours at the race site.  It was now more than four hours on.  Upon depositing the transition bags — including running shoes, glasses, bike helmet and shoes etc. I went to find Mike and Dawn Stevenson so that we could drive the bike course together.  I found them — and I found a parking ticket on the windshield.

At this point, I had done everything necessary to get to the start line.  I was healthy and fit.  In fact, I think I was more fit than I’ve ever been.  My equipment was turned in and accounted for at the race site.  I had a plan for the evening and the morning as far as transportation and meals.  I thought everything that was going to go wrong had gone wrong.

I was mistaken.

You Did Good, Papa. I Got a Chipper Sandwich, See?

I went to Idaho last weekend.  Like previous Ironman experiences, it was big and grand and memorable.  I was fit.  I was ready.  I was excited.  The race didn’t turn out how I wanted.  There were good aspects, but mostly, I bombed out.

After traveling all day and night Monday and then working on Tuesday, I rode straight to the tribe’s diving meet after work.  I was behind schedule and as it turned out, arrived too late.  It stung.  It was a totally avoidable mistake.

The pool sits atop a hill.  It is an eighth of a mile and about a seven percent grade to get up the hill.  I churned with all that I had to drag my aching body and my commuter bike up that hill.  At the top, I rode straight to the fence, peered through and saw that there were teenagers diving already.  I was too late.  And, I was dizzy so I layed down right there in the driveway.

I’m not sure how long I sprawled on the asphalt.  I was disappointed and sweaty and mad and, I was dizzy.  Tobias came out.  He played with my helmet and the blinky light.  Then he announced, “You did good, Papa.”

There was a pause.  I asked what he meant.  I had missed his dives.  I had barely gotten around the second loop of the run in Coeur d’Alene.  He held the pause.  Finally I opened my eyes and he held up his ice cream treat.  “I got a chipper sandwich, see?  And, you did good.  We saw you do a summersault at the end.  Mama laughed.  It was funny.”

It was worth it.  Every painful step.

And the FTP Remains the Same

In January I did an FTP test in the basement.  A strong playlist featuring the Violent Femmes, Ramones, The Clash, Sex Pistols, Dropkick Murphys and a heavy rotation of Social Distortion carried me through.  I had a new threshold by something like eight percent.  I also had trouble getting back up the stairs afterward.

Yesterday I rode an FTP test out at Hains Point.  It was windy but the cool temperatures kept a lot of the normal riff raff away and the road was nearly clear.

After 16 minutes I was on track for the elusive 300 watt normalized power reading.  Sadly, those four minutes were excruciatingly long and I didn't deliver.

After 16 minutes I was on track for the elusive 300 watt normalized power reading. Sadly, those four minutes were excruciatingly long and I didn’t deliver.

The results were virtually the same.  Normalized power was identical.  The variability of the ride, VI, was identical and very close to a perfectly even time trial at 1.01.  The cadence improved from an average of 87 to 93 and the average heartrate dropped by a single beat to 146.  Not because I’m any stronger but due to dropping a few winter pounds, the measure of watts per kilogram improved from 3.37 to 3.47.

Today I had trouble the first time I took the stairs.

Profits, pressures and costs of globalizing triathlons

klassman:

James Madison once famously observed that a man cannot be a judge in his own case. In this essay, the tensions between professionalizing triathlon, providing a high quality race experience and growing the market are highlighted.

Originally posted on The Fields of Green:

Photo by Dean Treml/Red Bull via Getty Images Photo by Dean Treml/Red Bull via Getty Images

Across the multi-sport industry of triathlons, the endurance challenge series with top prestige is licensed and produced by World Triathlon Corporation (WTC). WTC’s world renowned sport property brand is its Ironman triathlon – a 140.6 mile length race combined of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile cycling race, and 26.2 mile length marathon.

Perhaps, surprisingly, the daunting heft of these miles attracts, rather than repels “IRONFANS” and over 250,000 athletes to Ironman and its Half Ironman, 70.3 mile version, events annually. With its sport property annual revenue reported to hover near the $200 million mark, the WTC continues to attract the participant numbers, caliber of elite athletes, prestige, media rights deals, and wealth of sponsor partnerships that are enviable across the sport industry.

When it comes to the organization of elite global sport, complacency is not an option. Yet, the stakeholders whose…

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Rah Rah Raleigh

Esme and I took a road trip to Raleigh this weekend.  She hung out with her lifelong pal Ava and I ran the half marathon.

Another post will have to do justice to the race details.  In sum, it was fantastic.

It is Wednesday and my post-race recovery is slow.  Last night I basically blew up 60 percent of the way through a track workout.  Legs felt like concrete.  Today my hamstrings and my ass feel like ground sausage.  These things are a small price to pay for having fun outdoors and running faster than I’ve ever run, but they are a price.

That is all.  My complaints about good things are finished for the day.

The Single Best Thing I’ve Read on Open Water Swimming in Years

Jodie Swallow is now going to write for Witsup.  Her first article is on swimming well in the open water.

She starts out strong:

It isn’t an absolute correlation that speed in the pool equals speed in the sea. Open water (OW) is to pool swimming; what mountain biking is to road racing; what Xterra is to triathlon; what cross country is to athletics.

And it keeps getting better.  Well worth the effort to clip and save.

PR does not always stand for Personal Record — IM Puerto Rico Race Report

The race was full of drama.  Life and death kind of drama.  There was a shootout.  The injured athletes are apparently okay.  TRS has more here on implications and some of general security issues facing races.

I swam well.  I went 26:33 with no wetsuit which was fast enough to tie Dede Griesbauer and since she is an absolute icon of the sport and a fabulous swimmer for going on three decades, there is no room for complaint and plenty of room for happy.  I think there were eight age-group men and two age group women (including one who DNFed) who swam faster.  There is one guy listed with a 19 minute swim — which I am sure is in error.  I doubt anyone swam five minutes faster than the fastest pro who gapped the rest of the pro field.  Excepting Mr. 19-Minutes, I was first in my age-group out of the water by one second.  The next guy went on to get second in our age group at the end of the day — I slid all the way back to 16th.

We had an in-water start.  After the turn-around, I tried to go inside of the markers to avoid congestion.  It is clear that I crossed under the bridge on the right and moved left toward the finish and away from the surf which was on the right and in front of us.

We had an in-water start. After the turn-around, I tried to go inside of the markers to avoid congestion. It is clear that I crossed under the bridge on the right and moved left toward the finish and away from the surf which was on the right and in front of us.

I rode hard.  I think I rode well.  The roads were in good shape, there was wind and the scenery was great.

Where you see the black/white dot on the road is where we turned around halfway back to start the second loop.  We did the second half of the course twice.  Almost no elevation change -- excepting some of the highway ramps close to the city.  Stunning to ride with the ocean over your shoulder -- and windy too.

Where you see the black/white dot on the road is where we turned around halfway back to start the second loop. We did the second half of the course twice. Almost no elevation change — excepting some of the highway ramps close to the city. Stunning to ride with the ocean over your shoulder — and windy too.

The critical statistics were all in line with my goals however the time on the road was slower than I hoped.  All things considered, I’d rather have a slower time where I executed the way I planned than a blazing time that I cannot ever approach again due to a fluke in pacing or wind.  I had hoped to ride under 2:20.  By contrast, in October I went too hard for the first half and ended up with normalized power of 224 watts, and IF of .81 and a variability index of 1.07.  Granted, the Austin 70.3 is over much hillier terrain, but 1.07 is too much and I even ended up with a best ever run split.  Too bad I didn’t have the VI from Puerto Rico and the NP from Austin on the same day.

I was aiming for a normalized power of 230-235 and a intensity of .8.  While those numbers were lower than I wanted I'm very happy with a variability index of only 1.01.  That is what I needed to run well -- that, and more run training.

I was aiming for a normalized power of 230-235 and a intensity of .8. While the actual numbers were lower than I wanted I’m very happy with a variability index of only 1.01. That is what I needed to run well — that, and more run training.

I smoothed the graph below significantly, but there are still a lot of ups and downs on the pink line.  I don’t quite understand that feature yet.

Tuck down and get out of that wind you big galoot!  Oh, and get stronger too so that your cadence is more steady and the power is higher.

Tuck down and get out of that wind you big galoot! Oh, and get stronger too so that your cadence is more steady and the power is higher.

I ran like a rolling turd.  It was only three or four miles before I realized that this was happening so I did my best to smile my way through the race.  It was pretty, the people were nice — why get upset?  Typically, one chart or map does not tell a whole story, but in this case it might.

Here we see the percentage of time spent running in each heartrate zone.  I would have liked it if the bars on the left were minimal and most of the time was found in fourth and fifth bar.  As it turns out, I ran with a heartrate about a dozen beats per minute above my threshold for 31 percent of the race.  It was hot, hilly and I was not prepared.  Live and learn...

Here we see the percentage of time spent running in each heartrate zone. I would have liked it if the bars on the left were minimal and most of the time was found in fourth and fifth bar. As it turns out, I ran with a heartrate about a dozen beats per minute above my threshold for 31 percent of the race. It was hot, hilly and I was not prepared. Live and learn…

The run course takes you down a very steep cobbled street that has a 90 degree turn about two-thirds of the way down.  After popping out from a little tunnel, we found ourselves on National Park land running on a wide concrete path along the sea and a giant wall of stone.  I’m told the locals call this section of the run “The Oven” because the combination of the sunshine, wall and whatever traps heat.  It would have been fine except we had a turn-around about a 3/4 of a mile down the path and then had to make our way up the steep hills again.  Brutal — but brutal for everyone not just me.

The view from the iconic entrance to the path below one of the historic forts on the run course.

The view from the iconic entrance to the path below one of the historic forts on the run course.

My leg was marked with a big 5Q.  What you see here is a guy who is absolutely zonked but trying to make a 5Q in American Sign Language.  FAIL.

The photo is washed out because it was that sunny.  My back was fried by the end of the morning.

The photo is washed out because it was that sunny. My back was fried by the end of the morning.

Women In Triathlon

klassman:

A first-time blogger jumps into something new — eyes open and full of candor.

Originally posted on trimenzies:

This is my first post on here so bare with me while I get started. This blog site will be my feeling on things that are going on in the world of triathlon and other things. So lets start with the hot button topic that I have publicly stayed away from so far. Women in triathlons.

After this past month I have seen over and over new women’s groups popping up on social media.This started out as a simple question why are there not the same amount of women pro slots in Kona as men. This has lead me to ponder the equality over the whole sport and after really looking into in I am baffled. I feel like I should apologize, I have been in this sport since I was 5 years old and it was not til recently when brought up by my girlfriend Kim that it is…

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50 Women to Kona

klassman:

Have you seen this post yet on #50womentokona? I hadn’t either. You should. It is full of all sorts of righteous indignation and spitfire.

Originally posted on The Mediocre Triathlete:

Please pardon my detour away from the silly toward the serious. If you are not familiar with the #50womentoKona movement, and gender equality means anything to you, get familiar! Better yet, get involved!  Visit the website www.TriEqual.com for an education and an opportunity to help. 

Silliness resumes next post….

50q

The current movement #50womentoKona shouldn’t really mean much to me as a triathlete. I am ten years into the sport, and I’ve had a blast with minimal care for, attention to, or following of pro triathletes. I do admire them. I just don’t follow them, with two exceptions. Cameron Dye is not only my favorite pro triathlete, but he is also my BFF. We share a passion for donuts. I learned this when I met him at the 2014 NYC Triathlon. He is responsible for my motto, “TMT-Where donuts are finish line food.” Coming in a close second is Chrissie Wellington…

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Puerrrrto Rrrrico!

We’ve been married 15 years.

They have been hard, wonderful, enriching and life-filled years.  We’ve loved, lost, doubted, grieved, moved and grown.  We have made big life decisions and been wrong.  We have made life-altering changes that have been rewarding beyond expectation.

What a ride.  We rented an efficiency apartment and then a tiny one-bedroom house.  We’re now on to owning our third house — and at 8+ years have lived in it for longer than all the other places together.  We have four wonderful children who everyday remind me how crazy, exotic and surprising they can each be in their individualism, generosity and sheer wackiness.  We have jobs, hobbies and passions, enviable health and enough resources to keep paying the bills every month.

Monday morning in the Ocean Park neighborhood of San Juan.

Monday morning in the Ocean Park neighborhood of San Juan.

We have also been through a failed adoption, five miscarriages, sudden job loss, a catastrophic accident for a close family member, death of loved ones and the ongoing challenges of aging parents.

We’ve had a life, and we’re just getting started.

One day last weekend, there was a meltdown over the rules of a board game, a band competition, the first soccer game of the season, track practice, drop-off for a sleepover, going out to the local burger joint and frozen custard shop and more games and reading before bed.  That is just the kids.  In between, Dana did her thing and I mine — which consisted of 95 minutes on the trainer, a four mile run and some strength exercises.  I fell asleep on the couch with one of the Narnia books at my fingertips — reading time abbreviated by Papa’s inability to stay awake.

I wonder how we ever left for a weekend.  But we did.  Dana and I went to San Juan to celebrate our anniversary.  She was able to spend time — twice a day most days — with her favorite teachers taking part in a special workshop in an airy studio blocks from the beach.  I raced.  The Ironman Puerto Rico 70.3 is on a fantastic course.  We swam in a protected lagoon (with manatees!) while the bike course quickly exits San Juan via closed highways and puts the Atlantic over your shoulder for a good portion of the ride before you turn south and find mountains on the horizon.   The run course is also spectacular.  It is hot, largely unshaded, full of hills and it takes you through Old San Juan and past two towering forts.

We stayed in a hotel with a balcony overlooking the lagoon where the swim took place.

I love her and cannot wait to see what comes next for us.

My favorite picture from the race.  A friend always says about challenges, "Make sure you are running to something and not just away from something.  I'm running headlong into the next 15, no 50, years together.

My favorite picture from the race. A friend always says about challenges, “Make sure you are running to something and not just away from something. I’m running headlong into the next 15, no 50, years together.

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