Radical Immersion

Ironman Training with Life, Marriage, Children & Work

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The Trail Ends in Williamsport

The JFK 50 finishes under a banner stretched between a pair of RVs on the road in front of the Williamsport Middle School.  I immediately dropped onto a chair and took a cup of water.  To my surprise, with my back to the school, I was looking out over a cemetery.

Probably not the best image for many of the people coming through the finish line.  It made me laugh a bit.  I guess I am dark.  I was wiped out but the whole scene was funny.

After weeks of hemming and hawing about doing the race, I decided to go for it on a Friday afternoon in August.  Dana taught and then went to a second class that night so we didn’t talk about it but I had mentally committed.  It would be a huge adventure.

Later that night, my father died. Read the rest of this entry »

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Where to Start? Boonsboro

Yesterday I ran the JFK 50.

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I don’t know where to start with a race report.  It was a huge day.  I improvised, thrived, stumbled (several times), worked my way out of two dark patches, let go of my preconceptions about pace, settled into a new threshold and then held it for three hours.  I learned once again that the mind is more powerful than any other part of the body.

I ate 12 Gu packets (including three or four Roctane), drank at least 200 ounces of fluid including water, Gu Brew and soup stock, inhaled two bananas (1/2 at a time) and twice failed to swallow the tempting cookies on offer at aid stations.  Once I snagged a small handful of M&Ms and another time I added a Nuun tablet to my 18 ounce handheld flask.

On the way to the race start, my stomach went into a lava-like meltdown.  I spent 35 of the 45 minutes that I had allotted for pre-race preparations in line for a toilet.

I had planned to meet up with Ignite teammate Austin to give him a bag that he could deliver to the aid station where we come off the AT and onto the canal trail.  It had a dry shirt and sleeves.  I never found Austin, gave my bag to a friendly lady at the start who promised to deliver it to the station where she was crewing for a friend.  I got there before she did and ran the whole day in the same clothes.  True to the spirit of the race, my bag was waiting for me at the gymnasium adjacent to the finish line.

I fell.  Four times in all, I was Captain Faceplant.  The first time was uphill on the AT around mile 12.  It stung but caused no damage.  The second time was on the precarious switchbacks coming off of the AT.  After 2:30 of running I was suddenly bouncing my knees, feet, forearms and shoulder off of a bunch of old fashioned, hard and sharp mountain rocks.  Five minutes later I did the same thing but on level ground after stumbling over another rock only this time I landed with a big stick under my right thigh and after bouncing my knee off of another rock.  The final tumbling humiliation came on the smooth canal trail as I ran in time with a group of three others.  Suddenly at the 21 mile mark, I managed an ungainly summersault featuring an impressive skid across the leaves and gravel to come to a stop like a big turtle stuck on its back.  It was this last maneuver that turned my left hip into an fair impression of hamburger.

I saw a bear.  It wasn’t of the ursine variety.  Rather, it was a bit of curiously shaped log bathed in some mindbending dabbled light with oak leaves blowing all about.

This was no autumn walk in the woods.  I put a hurt on myself a few times.  Coming onto the C&O Towpath, I spied my friend Erin up ahead by the her coral-orange shirt and gray backpack.  I ran 7:47 and made the catch.

She was running with a guy named Dink — who I believe must be a ultra and trail legend.  He has done nearly 80 marathons, several Ironmans including three in one seven week period, and scores of ultras.  He knew people who passed us.  He knew people we passed.  He knew their stories.  He was not having a great run — said he felt a little tight — but was having a great day and was genuinely happy for the opportunity to once again be on this course.  Dink is the ultra community embodied.

They chatted and set the pace.  I zoned out and went along for the ride at a perfect pace.  A little more than 10k later I was skidding across the gravel thinking that I was probably too much in that zoned out headspace.  Once I righted myself, I chased for about 15 minutes but could not close the gap and realized that I was now solo for the entire second half of the race.

I visited with Austin around mile 27.  Around mile 35, a lady who had stopped to pee next to the trail by bowing her knees out and pulling her shorts to the side looked up, smiled and waved.  I laughed and waved back.  I walked 30 seconds with an aid station worker coming off the canal trail so we could talk about the dam and old fashioned dynamo located in a stone building across the river.

I passed half a dozen people in the last eight miles.  The road rolled, but mostly it was lonely and I think that got to people more than the hills.  The shadows were growing, the temperature was dropping and I see why so many people struggle there.

The day was long.  It was full of beauty and calm.  I spent time thinking about a few hard things.  I reflected on my father, his life and death.  I spent a lot of time reveling in the beautiful tree-lined corridor.  I don’t know where to start with a race report.  Neither do I know where to end.

 

Sport as a Guide for Life

PotomacRiverHalfin15

A couple months ago I agreed to serve as a guide for a local runner.  Joe is a paraolympian; he is blind.    We were registered to run a half marathon about a month ago but it was canceled due to dangerous weather conditions.  We tried again and entered another local race — the Potomac River Half — that utilizes the towpath along the C&O Canal.  I thought I could help and he didn’t mind that I really had no idea what I was doing.

We emailed and spoke on the phone but didn’t actually meet until the morning of the race.  He was late; his wife got turned around trying to find the race.  I had to find a bathroom.  We both had to pick up our race packets.  After introductions and all the normal pre-race activities — from changing shoes to pinning bib numbers — we found ourselves at the back of a pack of about 150 people as a clock counted down three more minutes to the start.

Joe suggested that we work ourselves up toward the front.  He thought it would be easier.  I stashed our bags and his cane in the woods and we walked through the people right to the front row moments before the horn sounded.

We were a study in contrasts. Read the rest of this entry »

Sports Parenting in 10 Sentences

Worth reading and revisiting from time to time.

JAG GYM Blog

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1 word: Hi.  Greet your child when they get in the car with “Hi” before you ask about practice, the score of the game or homework.  

2 words: Have fun.  In all likelihood you’ve heard this statistic: 70% of kids quit sports before they turn 13 for the primary reason that they are not having fun.    Encourage and remind your kids to have fun.

3 words: Tell me more.  Before forming an opinion or dispensing advice, ask for more information from your child.  This will force them to tell more of the story and give you more information as to what is actually happening.  

4 words: Good job. Keep working.  Doc Rivers, head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers and parent of a NBA player suggests these four words.  Rivers notes that as parents we are often tempted to say…

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Today is the first World Marathon Swimming Day

140 Years and Counting…

LoneSwimmer

The SwimmersThe Swimmers

Logo of the Marathon Swimmers FederationAugust the 24th is the day in 1875 that Captain Matthew Webb successfully swam the English Channel, landing at Calais on his second attempt in under 22 hours. It’s the date that the sport of Channel and Marathon Swimming unofficially claims as its birth day, (disregarding previous unsuccessful attempts by Webb and others).

So following a suggestion by US marathon swimmer Leonard Jansen on the Marathon Swimmers Forum in May 2015, the non-profit voluntary and free swimming organisation that wrote the (only) Global Rules of Marathon Swimming, the organisation that runs the only peer- nominated and selected Marathon Swimming Awards, the Marathon Swimmers Federation announces today, August the 24th, as the first official World Marathon Swimming Day.

Because the Marathon Swimmers Federation is merely an expression of the worldwide community of marathon swimmers. We are all in this together.

An alternative day could the first day that someone conceived both of…

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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.

Profits, pressures and costs of globalizing triathlons

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.

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

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

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

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.

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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