Thursday, August 03, 2006

Ironman Lake Placid Race Report

Get Ready. The race report you will find below is long. I wanted to remember every detail so I wrote this in my head over and over during the past 10 days. What an amazing day! What an amazing race! Enjoy. I tried to put some pictures from the race. There are a few more taken on my camera that I will try to upload later.

Ironman USA Lake Placid 2006 Race Report

The dust has settled and I have finally made it back to Dallas after completing the Ironman USA race in Lake Placid, NY on July 23, 2006. I thought it would be useful and important to put some of my thoughts about the race down on paper so that I can always remember the day I became an Ironman (oops, I just ruined the ending).

Unfortunately the race week got off to a less then pleasant start. The evening before our scheduled departure both Rachel and I became violently ill with intractable nausea and vomiting. I managed to vomit 24 times and only slept about 45 minutes. When the alarm went off at 4:15 am to get ready for our flight I knew that she and I would not be able to travel. After rebooking our two tickets (at a cost of $489) I sent Jenny, Kate, and my parents off to the airport. They made it to White Plains, NY without incident while Rachel and I slept most of the day and tried to force down a little Gatorade and toast. The next morning she and I got a lift to the airport from Kyson (training buddy) and we made the trip to the NY without incident. Unfortunately, that night Jenny got sick with the same illness. I was amazed how run-down I felt after vomiting for 24 hours. I began to worry if my race would be significantly affected.

After several days of visiting family outside New York City we loaded up the car and drove 5 hours north to Lake Placid. The drive was amazing. Everything was so green and the trees so tall. Unfortunately, the closer we got to our destination the hillier the roads became. I had been told to expect hills and I was not to be disappointed. We arrived at our townhouse and as promised it was right on the bike and run routes. I was so excited to realize that I would see my family twice on the bike and four times on the run portion of the race.

I made it down to the transition area to pick up my bike later that day and then went for a 1 hour ride. I managed to go up a few of the early climbs in the course and realized that the race day would require me to remain steady and even in order to prevent a significant blow-up. More on this later. Over the next several days I rode a little, ran a little and got in a good swim on the actual course. Sure enough there was a yellow rope about 8 feet underwater that the buoys were tethered to. If you followed this you couldn’t go off course. I was sure that about 2,399 other folks had the same brilliant idea.

On Saturday I dropped off my transition bags. I had packed and unpacked them at least 5 times that day to make sure I had all the necessary equipment in each one. As I rattled off my list of items—bike shoes, helmet, sunglasses, running shoes, hat, socks (?). Great, I had forgotten my favorite running socks. These were the socks I had used to run my final three longs runs with. I had to have MY socks. I couldn’t use new socks for the race. They had not been tested. What if they rubbed me wrong or didn’t wick away the sweat from my feet? Too bad. They were nowhere to be found. I broke down and bought a new pair of running socks at the athlete’s expo. Of course, this also violated my cardinal rule: “Thou shall not wear anything Ironman until you ARE and Ironman.” Unfortunately, all the expo had was running socks with the Ironman logo. I even shopped around at several of the bike shops in town but they too were of no help. I would have to wear the Ironman socks before I was an Ironman. Would this ruin my race? Had I just jinxed 8 months of training? What a lot of superstition.

After rectifying the "sock situation" I dropped off my bike and wrapped the handlebars and seat with plastic bags. Of course it was raining and this worried everyone for Sunday’s race. The rain continued all day Saturday and into the evening. Unfortunately rain was predicted for Sunday morning as well. You can’t stop Mother Nature…just learn to go with what she dishes out. I went back to the townhouse and tried to relax. Ate a great dinner consisting of spaghetti and let Rachel paint my toenails. That’s right; she paints my toenails before each race. It has become a tradition for her and me. It started before one my first triathlons 3 years ago when I fell asleep on the sofa and she colored my toenails with markers. Ever since, I have asked her paint my toenails for good luck. For this race she had some very special purple sparkle polish. She meticulously coated the nails with multiple layers of polish. She even managed to paint the toes that no longer have toenails thanks to all the long-distance runs. She was quite proud of her “artwork” and it put me at ease to know that a part of her little spirit would be with me all day on Sunday.

I went to bed at 10:00 pm but couldn’t sleep. The rain kept falling. My mind kept wandering. Eventually it was 1:00 am and I was set to get up at 4:00 am. I ate a Clif bar and drank some milk and finally fell asleep for a much needed 3 hours of rest. The alarm sounded almost immediately and I jumped out of bed to begin one of the greatest days of my life—hopefully.

After eating my standard breakfast of oatmeal, bagel, and a banana I gathered my wetsuit and jacket (it was still raining and cold…52 degrees) and began the ½ mile walk to the transition area. I met up with a woman and her fiancé who were also heading to the race. It was her second Ironman and she had some helpful advice for this race. They were planning to get married in 2 weeks and had planned their wedding around this race. I never saw her again that day but I know she eventually went on to finish just under 15 hours (12 seconds to be exact…way to go Monique).

After checking on my bike and removing the plastic bags from the handlebars and seat I made one final check of my transition bags. Everything was still there. A little wet, but still there. One of the guys next to me was leaning down to work on his bag and saw my purple, sparkling toenails. That prompted a “cool nails man” and then an “out of sight” when I told him it was my daughter’s good luck tradition. I then began the walk to the swim start. The music was playing, the crowds were gathering, and the athletes were clearly a little nervous. After a quick stop at the Porta-Potty (a recurring theme for the day) I made my way down to the beach of Mirror Lake. After an attempt at stretching (I was way too nervous to get any benefit…it just looked like the thing to do) I decided it was time to enter the water. I stepped onto the timing mat and heard the familiar beep of the timing chips triggering the computer. This race is going to happen and it’s going to happen soon!

I swam a couple of warm-up strokes in the lake and then headed over towards the starting line. I decided to seed myself near the front. I planned to try and break 1 hour for the swim and several other people around me indicated this was the location to be in. I was about 30 yards off the buoy line and about 4 rows back from the front of the pack. There seemed to be a lot of open water around me. So much in fact that a scuba diver emerged right next to me. He made some small talk with all of us and told us there were 15 divers in the water that morning. As quickly as he appeared he was gone back into the depths of Mirror Lake. After the singing of the National Anthem the countdown began: “3 minutes…2 minutes…1 minute” and then “BANG!”- the cannon had sounded.

video link to the swim start footage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8nYY1nlhqQ

Suddenly my choice of a starting position did not seem too smart. My pockets of open water were quickly erased as 2,400 swimmers went from vertical to horizontal in a synchronous tilting motion. There were arms, legs, heads, fists, knees, elbows, and more fists everywhere. People were climbing up on your back as you climbed up and over the guy (or gal) in front of you. My goggles were immediately knocked my left eye and I didn’t dare stop to fix them for fear of getting run over. Eventually I managed to perform a fairly elegant maneuver to fix my goggles and sight the buoy all at the same time. Once my head re-entered the water I was immediately greeted with a kick to the jaw and some fingernails down my arm. At this point I went into survival mode. It was safer to just keep my head down and plow forward. I tried to breathe every 4 strokes in order to minimize the time my face was out of the water. Anytime my head was exposed I managed to find a foot or hand to give me an up close greeting that brought with it rather unpleasant results. At one point I slowed a bit to fix my goggles and the field swam right over me. I was looking up as a wall of swimmers passed overhead. I had to literally punch my arms back towards the surface in order to make a hole in the “ice-like” covering of wetsuit-clad racers. The first 800 meters went on just like this. I reached the first turn buoy and managed to negotiate the 90 degree left turn without getting crushed. I took the turn a little wide on purpose. 25 meters later another 90 degree left turn and I was heading down the homestretch of lap number one. The swim consists of two loops around a rectangular course for a total of 2.4 miles. The second half of lap #1 was a little better and I managed to find some open water. Made it to the shore at about the 30 minute mark. Ran onto the beach and then back into the water for lap number two. After a 20 meter swim out past a dock, we turned left and began the rectangular swim again. I had hoped for a 28 minute first lap but given the beating I had just taken I felt okay with my time.

The second lap was fantastic! Lots of open water and feet to draft off. I stayed with the same 15 guys for the entire second lap. I can still picture their numbers written on their caps (#685, #1243, etc.). Perhaps I was not going hard enough if I had time to memorize their numbers. The second loop went fast and I as I entered the homestretch it hit me that my best and fastest part of the race would soon be over. I exited the water at 1 hour and 1 minute (overall #210). I had hoped for a sub-1 hour swim but I was happy with this time. After exiting the water I ran up the beach and layed down on the ground to allow on the “peelers” to remove my wetsuit. That thing was off in under 3 seconds and I jumped up and began the ¼ mile run to the transition area. This is when I realized I was in for a special treat. There must have been 2,000 people lining the roadway. They were 5-10 deep in some sections. There were thousands of spectators on the shores lining the beach. The noise was almost deafening. The adrenaline was pumping and I was smiling. This is what I came to Lake Placid to experience.

I grabbed my bike transition bag and made my way into the changing tent. A few minutes later I emerged ready to tackle the 112 mile bike course. I opted to wear arm warmers due to the mid 50 degree temps and the persistent rain. This proved to be a good choice. Upon exiting the tent my bike was being held by a volunteer. I grabbed it and trotted over to the starting line, hopped on, clipped in and was off for a little bike ride. The first ¼ mile of the bike course consisted of some short, steep downhills with sharp turns at the bottom of each hill. They had warned us to take these slow and had hay bales lining the corners in case anyone slid out. I hit the brakes once and suddenly realized that the wet wheel rims would not let the brake pads grip. Fortunately I didn’t slide out and soon found myself speeding off on the course.

I passed by my family (wife, kids, mom and dad) in the first 2 miles of the course. They were cheering and making lots of noise for me. It was great to know how much they supported me. It was also wonderful to know where they would be for the entire day. I looked forward to those brief moments when I could see them and hear their cheers. Rachel’s little voice was shrill. She kept screaming “Go Daddy Go!” Who could ask for anything more? I had been warned to take the first loop of the bike course easy or else pay the price on loop number two. With that in mind I settled in and just let my legs spin around and around. My breathing was easy, my heart rate was low, and I felt very comfortable. Unfortunately it was still raining and the roads were very slick.

After a relatively short climb the descent into Keene began. This is an approximately 7 mile downhill section during which you can hold speeds of 40-45 miles per hour for nearly the entire 7 miles. I was tucked in tight and very aerodynamic. Despite my tuck there were guys still passing me at greater than 50 MPH! The roads were wet and I had to be careful to not let my wheels touch any of the painted road stripes as these are as slick as ice. After finishing the long descent the course meandered along through some very nice and scenic parts of the Adirondack Mountains. We passed by small country homes, all of which had the occupants sitting on the front yard cheering, blowing whistles, playing drums and strumming guitars. The people of the region really get into the race and they decorate their yards, barns, and in one case chicken coop in appreciation of the race. At one point I passed by a little boy (about 8 years old) who was trying his hardest to play an old-fashioned bugle. As he tried to squeak out a rousing version of "Charge" his face turned a disturbing color of red and his eyes nearly popped out of the sockets . The sound was horrendous but at the same time motivating.

For the first 30 miles I felt very comfortable and was not pushing too hard. I was averaging about 22 mph thanks to the downhill section. I had been eating and drinking according to my plan. At mile 35 things began to unravel. I had to pee like nobody’s business. I thought this was a good thing. Clearly I was well-hydrated. Little did I realize this would become a theme for the day. After a quick stop I was back on the course and pedaling along. Eventually we turned off the main highway and did a 7 mile out and back section. It was at this point that I got to see the Professional men going the other way. They were flying! A chugged along for the next 14 miles and maintained a steady pace. Lots of people passed by me but I let them go because of my fear of “blowing up” on loop number two. At about mile 45 the course makes a sharp left turn and then you begin the climb back into Lake Placid. For the next 10 miles the road just continues to go up and up and up. There are some flats mixed in there but overall the theme is “up.” The scenery is beautiful—raging rivers with rapids, White Mountain with its ski runs cut into the sides, and the Harlem Globetrotters. That’s right, in the middle of nowhere there was a man and woman dressed up in Globetrotters uniforms complete with the red and white striped shorts, blue jerseys, and huge afro wigs. They were amazing cheerleaders and everyone got a kick out of them. A few miles later the final climb of the loop came into the sight. The athlete riding next to me said “get ready for some fun.” I had no idea what lay around the next bend.

As we turned to the right I suddenly was looking up a steep hill about ¼ mile in length. There were people lining both sides of the road. There must have been 500 people out there. They were screaming, beating drums, blowing whistles and shaking signs. They closed in around the riders and I rode up the middle of the crowd. I felt like I was ascending the Alps in the Tour de France! Of course with all this support I had to turn it up a notch. Why not, I had saved myself very nicely on the first loop. After ascending back into town the crowd support only grew larger. After a quick stop at my special needs bag to drop off the arm warmers and grab some additional Hammer gel and a Clif bar I got to experience the most amazing crowd I have ever seen at a race. There were spectators everywhere in town. In most places the crowds were 10 people deep. The noise was deafening as I twisted and turned my way through town. The roads were a mosaic of chalk drawings and words of encouragement. After emerging from the downtown mayhem I crossed the timing mats and had completed the first loop---average speed 19.3 MPH. This was faster than I anticipated but I still felt really good except for some mild, persistent stomach cramps. That would all change for loop number two.

Loop number two was a definite challenge. My stomach was in knots for the entire 56 miles. I had to pee two more times and legs ached every time the road made any type of attempt at an incline. Without going into too much detail I realized that I was very well hydrated. I have never had to pee so much while on my long bike rides. I should have realized at this point that maybe my fluid and nutrition strategy geared towards the Texas heat needed to be adjusted for the Lake Placid weather. Oh well, a true Rookie mistake. I got passed by a lot of folks on loop number two. I tried to stay within myself and just keep the legs moving. My stomach cramps had significantly worsened and by mile 90 it had become uncomfortable to sit up or lean over on the bike. Not only were my insides cramping, my abdominal wall muscles were all twisted up in knots. In retrospect I believe that the intractable vomiting and dry heaving 6 days earlier had really taken a toll on my abdominal wall muscles. They had received quite a workout and were now letting me know they were tired of the madness.

I plodded my way through the out and back section on Hassleton road and tried to continue to eat food. Again, with all the cramping I probably should have just ridden but I was determined to stick to my nutrition plan. I continued to pay the price for my Type A, must follow the rules, personality for the remainder of the ride. I passed by the Harlem Globetrotters again and they were louder than the first time. The final climb into town was loud, crowded, and intense. However, this time I didn’t have the same gusto as I did earlier in the day. At this point I felt like I was limping back to the transition area. In the end I dropped my average speed on loop number two by 3 mph and finished the course at an average speed of 17.84 mph (overall #685). I would have liked to finish the bike course a little stronger but I was happy with my pacing. I had only ridden 100 mile training rides before the race so I now had a new personal distance record. The last 12 miles were brutal. I looked at my watch at mile 100 and it said 5 hours 15 minutes. That means my speed dropped to about 12 mph for the final 12 miles of the course.

I dropped off Colleen (my bike—named by Rachel) with a volunteer and headed for the changing tent. Upon standing back on solid ground my stomach and abdominal wall immediately revolted. My body doubled over and I walked into the tent looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I found a seat and began to empty my bag onto the ground. I was unable to sit up fully to put on my running jersey. The abdominal cramping was unbelievable. I volunteer helped my get the jersey on and put some sunscreen on my shoulders and back. I tied my shoes and tucked some special items in my back pockets and was out the door. I tried to run but immediately was stopped in my tracks by the abdominal cramps. I couldn’t run. I was bent over and hobbling down the street. My legs felt great at this point. They wanted to run but my abdomen was excruciating. I tried to stretch a little but the cramping only worsened. I just kept walking and got passed by so many people. They were all running and I wanted to run too. I had really worked hard on my running this past year and I felt like I had the training to really turn out a solid marathon. This would not be the day.

At about mile 2 I could see my family waiting for me. I was determined to not let them see me walking so I struggled to get up to a slow running pace. The pain was unbelievable. I smiled through gritted teeth and managed a meager wave to my kids but at this point I was seriously considering whether I could finish this race. As soon as I was out of sight ( I didn’t want them to worry about me and I knew they would if they had any idea how bad I was hurting) I began to walk again. The cramps were not getting any better. In fact they were getting worse. People were still passing me by the dozens and that’s when I met the Volunteer of the Year.

I race volunteer in a blue shirt (indicating he was an aid station captain) saw me struggling and came up beside me. He asked if I was okay and I replied “not really.” In reality I was ready to hand him my race number and call it quits. I told him about the cramps I had now been battling for about the past 4.5 hours and that I could not get rid of them. He told me he had a similar problem when he raced the course last year. Unfortunately didn’t have any great suggestions on how to stop the pain and cramping. He said his just resolved on its own. Instead he offered to say a prayer with me. I welcomed the idea and as I walked beside him we bowed our heads. He asked for God to watch over me and heal my stomach. He asked for all the racers continued safety and he said thanks for such a wonderful day to race. After saying “Amen” he wished me luck and sent me on my way. He had walked about ½ mile with me and at that point had become my greatest supporter. I don’t know his name but I will always remember the compassion and support he showed for me. He didn’t have to walk with me, pray with me, and wish me a good recovery. He saw I was in trouble and he wanted me to get to experience the most wonderful finish line in the world. I thank you, whoever you were. You saved my Ironman race.

I continued to walk for about the next 2 miles and began to eat some pretzels from the aid stations. Suddenly my stomach cramps began to ease. Before I knew it I was running…that’s right running. I was not jogging. My feet felt great, my stomach was better, and the weather was perfect. I ran the next several miles at a good pace (probably 8 min per mile). I’ll never know the true pace for those miles as I had decided to not check my mile splits on the run. I was determined to finish the race and I didn’t want to get hung up how fast I ran each mile. I kept running for miles 6, 7, and 8. Somewhere in there I passed by the turnaround. I kept eating pretzels, drinking water, and guzzling Gatorade. I was so afraid of getting dehydrated. In Texas dehydration is the endurance athlete's number one enemy. Unfortunately I over-hydrated. I managed to pee about 10-11 times on the run course. That's right, I peeed alot. I estimate I wasted close to 20-25 minutes either using the Port-a-Potty or standing in line waiting for one to open up. I should have realized that I could reduce my fluid intake but I was so scared that if I got dehydrated the abdominal cramps would return. At mile 11 I saw my new-found friend ("Volunteer of the Year") on the other side of the road. I yelled for his attention. “Hey! Hey! It’s me. Remember?” (as I pointed to my stomach). I so wish I knew his name at that moment but “Hey!” was all I could shout. He finally looked up and shouted back “Looking good stomach cramps.” That’s right I was looking good and I didn’t mind the new nickname.

At mile 11 I passed by my family again. This time I was running strong and it showed. I had new found confidence and I knew I was going to finish this race. The kids were going crazy and my parents were so excited to see me pass by so close. I drew strength from their support. Apparently they had written messages in chalk on the road but I didn’t see them…sorry about that. I made it back into town and ran up the dreaded hill to Main Street. There were two guys in lawn chairs with bullhorns. They were shouting words of encouragement and holding their own little sports commentary right there on the side of the road. “I think he’s going to make it Bill.” “I’m not sure Jim, his legs look tired.” “Come on number 68 don’t listen to him you can do it.” It actually was quite funny to hear their running commentary. Once into town there was another 3 mile section that went out and back near the swim course and then it was time for loop number two.

At this point I was still running strong. I was walking through the aid stations to ensure I was eating and drinking enough (actually too much). Of course I still had to pee about every 2 miles. My over hydration will go down as one of the more bizarre things that I have heard someone do to themselves during an Ironman race. After leaving town I passed by my family again. I took the time to cross the road and give a kiss to my two little girls. I think they were shocked to have me so close to them. All day I had only run or ridden by and never stopped to touch or kiss them. It was a good boost for me. I knew that I would not see them again until the finish line.

The second half of the marathon was tough. My legs began to ache and at times it felt like it was faster to walk than run. The little hills now looked and behaved like mountains. I forced myself to keep moving and tried to run whenever possible. I would run from one aid station to another and eventually had to shorten my runs to go from one grouping of trees to the next. Did I mention that this run course is absolutely beautiful. The scenery is amazing. Even more impressive were the number of people lining the route—even in the more remote and deserted sections. At one point there was a man holding out a real Olympic gold medal from the 1962 Winter Olympics. He encouraged everyone who ran by to rub it for good luck. I touched it both times I passed by…pretty cool.

Some of the spectators were so funny. One group of guys had a Mr. Potato Head doll set up in the middle of road. As you ran by they would yell, “Look at the potato, Look at the potato, Look at the potato.” I’m not sure the significance of the potato but it was nice comic relief. Other groups had grills set up on the side of the road and would offer you hot dogs and hamburgers as you ran by. Everyone would cheer for you by either you number or your name. It was fun to hear “Come on Todd” and “Let’s go #68…look at the potato.”

As I approached the final hill back into town my legs were really hurting. It seemed I was moving faster by walking than running. However, as I approached this final (and steep) hill into town I decided I needed to run up it. As my legs began to turn over I got a sudden burst of energy and confidence--I think it was the good vibes all my training partners were sending from Texas. The two guys at the top of the hill with bullhorns were yelling for me. The crowd was cheering and the other racers who were walking up the hill mumbled words of encouragement. I made it to the top of that hill and kept on going. Eventually I had to walk a little more but at this point I knew the finish line was in my near future. A few more miles and I would get to hear those famous words—“You are an Ironman.”

I trudged my way through the final 2 miles and at the 26 mile marker I broke into a full run. The majority of the final ¼ mile was downhill. My feet were flying (at least it felt that way). Nothing hurt anymore. The crowds were loud again and the kids hanging over the fences wanted high fives as I ran by. Suddenly I turned into the stadium and was on the Olympic speed skating track from the 1980 Winter Games. With only 200 meters remaining I began to savor every sound and sight. The crowd was stacked in the bleachers lining the finish chute. I knew my family was somewhere up there. I couldn’t stop to look for them. I had to reach that line. I could hear the announcer say my name and then it was over. I was an Ironman.

A volunteer placed a finisher’s medal around my neck, another assessed my medical status, and a third removed my timing chip. In the span of 10 seconds my Ironman day was over. So many thoughts raced through my mind. I remembered the previous 8 months of hard training—all the sacrifices my family and I had made for this moment. I had dreamed of this exact moment nearly every night since I signed up for the race 1 year ago. It was typically the last thing I thought about as I closed my eyes and the first thing I longed for when I staggered into the bathroom at 4:30 am to get ready for another early morning run or swim. Where had the time gone? The race was still a bit of a blur. I remembered so many details of the day but at the same time my mind was a jumbled soup of distant memories of rides at Cedar Hill, runs on the scorching dam, and lonely Friday nights in the pool at the YMCA. I thought about all my training partners who had helped me get to this point. There are too many to list here but you ALL know who you are. This was a day that they helped make possible. I knew they were watching and cheering me back in Texas and that helped me reach the line. I never once regretted my decision to race in the Ironman. It has changed me in some way that I can’t quite explain yet. Someday I’ll be able to tell my daughters about the day they cheered me to the finish line of my first Ironman. Someday I’ll tell them that they can accomplish anything in life if they work hard and dedicate themselves to their goals. Someday I’ll tell them about the summer of 2006…a summer that changed me forever.

My finishing time was 12 hours and 38 minutes. The best 12 hours and 38 minutes of my life. Will I do it again? Absolutely.

Quest4Iron complete.

Epilogue: After wandering around the finish area for about 30 minutes and not finding my family I headed over to the food tent and began to load up on pizza. Eventually I found my family. They had seen the whole finish but had trouble getting across the finish area with my dad’s wheelchair. After lots of hugs and a few tears it was time for me to reveal my surprise for Jenny. It just so happens that our 10th wedding anniversary falls on the 27th of July (4 days after Ironman). I wanted to give her a special anniversary present; something that she would never forget. With that in mind I bought her a 3-stone diamond anniversary ring. She has always wanted one and I believe she thought she might get it for our 20th anniversary. I wanted her realize how special she is to me. She sacrificed so much for my Ironman dream. She has sacrificed so much for my career. She has sacrificed so much for US. Every time she looks down at that ring on her finger I want her to know her love and support during the past 10 years has been the best thing that ever happened to me. I wanted her to know that I took her love and support (literally) with me on the course that day. I carried her anniversary ring in an inside pocket on my shorts for the entire race. As I reached into my pants to get the ring I told her I had something for her. She unfortunately thought I was getting ready to give her a used gel packet or an old Clif bar. Surprised doesn’t even begin to describe the look on her face when I pulled out a shiny diamond ring. The inside is engraved with the following: “10 years + 140.6 miles.” I can’t wait for the next 10 years. I love you Jenny.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Single Digits

Well, it hit me hard last night. This race is going to happen and it's going to happen soon! The raceday countdown clock now reads 9 days (and ticking). It's hard to believe that I signed up for the race 355 days ago. My race number has been assigned and I will #68. There will be a total of 2440 racers in Lake Placid. That's a huge field. I'm getting so excited.

My body is resting and recovering well and I can't wait to hit the course. Colleen (my bike) has been shipped and I only have one more run with the running group tomorrow am. I'm so indebted to everyone I've met through this process. I don't think they will ever realize the impact they have all had upon my training and my life. I've never had such great friends. My career has always driven me to study, work, and recover from long nights in the hospital. There has been little time for friends outside of the hospital. And let's be honest, doctors are a weird bunch of folks. We can't seem to talk about anything besides patients and medicine. That gets a little old after awhile.

Of course with everyone I've met through triathlon we can't stop talking about racing, training, heart rates, bikes, wheels, running, etc, etc. I like these topics better. Thanks everyone for being such wonderful friends. I will think of all of you while I'm racing (with a smile on my face).

Todd (#68)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Roll with it

I've been told by everyone who has completed an Ironman to be ready to adapt and change with whatever challenges the day presents to you. In the spirit of "rolling with it" here is what I have encountered thusfar this week:

1. Rained on Wednesday and missed my usual evening ride. I have not missed that ride in 27 consecutive weeks (rain, freezing temps, 100 degree days). Done it all but this week it rained and I decided if I crashed due to rain and was injured for the race I would never forgive myself. Got in a decent 1 hour ride on the indoor trainer instead.

2. Bike transport company has scheduled pick up for Lake Placid race 5 days earlier than I anticipated. Now I will have trouble getting in my last two rides in Dallas before flying to New York.

3. Locked myself out of the house for 2.5 hours yesterday after my brick workout. Managed to get a nice nap by laying on the concrete porch. Tried to call Jen's cell phone from a neighbor's cell phone but couldn't remember the phone number. Too bad it is printed on my Road ID bracelet (that I was wearing). Smooth...

4. Bike Stem Recall. The stem on my bike (the part that connects the main part of the bike to the handlebars) has been recalled because it has cracked and fallen off in 4 cases...all resulting in rider injury. Now I have to get the stem swapped out in time for the race and try not to mess up the way the bike is set up considering I have ridden almost 3000 miles this year with that stem. Great.

Just remember, these are easy challenges compared with what I will face on July 23rd. "Roll with it."

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Men can cry

Well, I finished the longest training weekend of my life today. The details are not terribly important but suffice to say I just about did the entire Ironman race over the course of the past 2.5 days. Standard 3500 yard swim on Friday. 100 mile ride Saturday (with about 5,800 of vertical climbing total). 21 mile run on Sunday (8:30 sec/mile). It's hard to believe it is now time to taper.

As I arrived home from the run I couldn't wait to see my girls. After giving Rachel and Kate big hugs I became a little emotional. Then I hugged Jenny and it all came out. 27 weeks of dedication and devotion to this event. I admit, I cried a little bit. Not because I was in pain or injured. Rather, I was so thankful that my family let me dedicate so many hours to this endeavor. Their support has been unconditional. Jenny has never complained about me disappearing for hours on Saturday to ride my bike or the late evening swims that took away from our together time. Granted, she's ready for this thing to be over and done. This journey has been a team effort and today I felt as if the team took the field for its final practice before the big game. Thank you girls (all 3 of you).

Friday, June 30, 2006

The Last BIG Weekend

Well, here it is...the final big weekend of training. It's hard to believe that a little more than 1 year ago I sat at the computer and signed up to race in the Ironman. As I prepare for this weekend's events I am reminded of all the support I have received from so many members of my family (blood relatives and triathlon family). Everyone has been nothing more than amazing. When the days have gotten long...and believe me they have in the past 4-6 weeks...it has been everyone's encouragement that has pushed me along. I am now only 22 days away from the race and leave for New York in 16 days. I'll finish this week with a 6 hour ride (about 104 miles) followed by a 6-8 mile run on Saturday. Then I'll top it all off with a 3 hour run (about 21 miles) on Sunday. Then it's time to taper. I'm so ready to back off a little bit. I'm ready to race and want to get out on the course. However, there's some work that needs to be taken care of first.

Final totals for June:
Swim: 42,500 yds
Bike: 575 miles
Run: 162 miles (my heaviest month ever...and my knees and ankles still feel good!)

Total training in 2006 (so far...)

Swim: 168,544 yds
Bike: 2,758 miles
Run: 705.5 miles

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Foot Fetish



Here's what happens when you run 4.5 miles on Friday, 8 miles on Saturday, and finish up with a 20 mile run on Sunday. Again, thanks to Patty for getting me around the lake for that second lap. I may need to make a stop by her pedicure ladies to see if they can fix this mess.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Big Mental Boost

The end is certainly in sight. I had a great weekend of training. Managed to get out for a hard 70 mile ride through the hills down near Joe Pool Lake with Ed, Jason, Kyson, and Bryon. The weather was cloudy and a little rainy. The best part...the temp was only 74 degrees. It was perfect. Managed to finish the ride at about 12 noon and then headed out on the dam for another "damn dam" run. I was planning to go for 1 hour. The other guys went in to the Oasis and ate lunch (I can't blame them). This run would prove to a true mental and physical breakthrough for me.

With the cloudy/cool weather my stride seemed to feel pretty good. There were only 1-2 other cyclists out on the dam so I had alot of time to myself. As the minutes ticked by I realized I felt great. Suddenly 15 minutes down and my feet felt good and my breathing was on target. 22 1/2 minutes down and I'm ready for more (this was the point at which I had trouble the last time on the dam). Before I knew it I was at 30 minutes and about 3.8 miles away from where I started. Of course it was not a blazing pace but my feet were constantly moving and I still felt great. I ate a gel and turned for home. Oh crap! I was almost 4 miles away from the car and now I could see how far I had run. Of course just as I came to the realization that I was in for a struggle on the way home the sun came out and the temp rose almost 15 degrees immediately. Suddenly it was HOT and HUMID!

I just kept my feet moving and kept the goal in sight. I'll admit, several times on the run I imaged what it will feel like to run the final miles of the Ironman race and make a loop around the Olympic speed skating oval before crossing the finish line. I played that scene over and over in my head so many times that day.

I managed to pick up the pace for the last 1/2 mile and made it back to the car in exactly 30 minutes. That means I did an even split off the bike. Even more importantly it means I was able to properly pace myself and make it back with plenty of energy. It was during this run that I started to finally feel as if this race can be completed. I had toughed out just under an 8 mile run at an 7 min 50 sec per mile. While not blazing speed it is certainly more than I could have ever considered of doing 1 year ago.