Sunday, May 28, 2006

You gotta earn it...

At the start of this past week I planned to put together my largest training week to date. It's now Sunday evening and I can happily say "I did it!"

I am 55 days away from Ironman USA in Lake Placid, NY and things are getting serious. At this time I am in the middle of my peak training phase. Every week consists of longer runs and rides. The stakes are high now. As they say it's "time to put up or shut up." I feel that this week I put up.

I had a fairly typical Mon-Thursday with scheduled runs, swims, and rides. Wednesday's run after riding 46 miles was brutal. It was at least 95 degrees by the time we ran and the heat was intense. My training partner and friend Kyson pulled me along on the run despite already having completed his Ironman race in April. Thanks Kyson.

The serious work began on Saturday. Headed out at 6:45 am with plans for a 100 mile ride. We rode over to DFW airport and rode the perimeter road twice. Then we headed back over near the YMCA and rode some hill repeats for 30 minutes. Again, thanks Kyson for the company, motivation, and encouragement. After finishing the 100.5 miles (that 0.5 miles counts in my book) I headed out for a 6 mile run in the hot Texas heat. By this point it was around 1:00 pm and the temps were in the mid 90's. I suffered a little bit but overall kept up a good pace and finished strong. That was my first 100 mile ride and I am glad to have it over and done. Miles 90-100 were the toughest. Overall, averaged about 20 miles per hour for the whole ride.

I got a good night's rest and headed for a long run this am at 5:30 am. The plan was to run one loop around White Rock Lake by myself and then Kyson was going to join me for lap #2. Each lap is 9 miles long. Kyson ended up arriving in time for the first lap so we headed out. We were the only fools at the lake this early. Unfortunately it was already getting warm and the humidity was high. Kyson is a much faster runner than I am so I certainly appreciate his accompainment because I know he had to slow his pace considerably. He has completed Ironman Arizona in strong fashion and offered me lots of good tips about what to expect during the marathon portion of the race.

Unfortunately this morning from about mile 2-5 my legs felt horrible. As a matter of fact, I couldn't feel my legs from the waist down. They were numb (and I guess painful) but honestly I couldn't be sure. I just kept my feet moving and pushed onward. After three miles of horrible legs and a GU pack the feeling came back. That was weird. We finished lap one in pretty strong fashion at about 1 hr 11 min. I took some time to hydrate, said hello to a couple of friends and then headed out for lap #2 by myself.
As expected lap #2 proved to be a bit more challenging. My shoes were squishy thanks to all my sweating in the high humidity and I could feel the blisters forming. Did I mention I have now lost a total of 5 toenails since I started training seriously (2 toes lost their toenail twice...I'll save this story for another day). I slogged my way around the lake and before I knew it I only had 2 miles to go. I could taste the finish line. I began to imagine the finish at Ironman. It will be electric. My stride didn't pick up much but my smile grew. I'm sure I looked like an absolute loon--covered in salt, sweat, and bugs...with a big smile.

In the end lap #2 was about 4 minute slower than lap #1. I am happy with my performance. 18 miles is my longest run to date. Overall I ran 41 miles this week. Amazingly my knees and ankles are holding up great. The toenails are another story.

I learned alot this weekend. I have great friends and training partners. Kyson, I really could not have done this weekend without your help. I learned that I can ride 100 miles and then get off and run hard. I realized that I can reach the finish line but it will take even more hard work. I especially learned that if you want to complete this race you have to earn it. It will never be given to you. You have to go out and get it!

Monthly totals: (for the month of May)
Swim: 39,000 yds
Bike: 583 miles
Run 132 miles

Total Training Distances since January 1, 2006:
Swim: 128,586 yards (about 73 miles)
Bike: 2,172 miles
Run: 547 miles

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Thanks Patty

Stumbled out of bed this morning at about 5:30 am. Ate a quick cereal bar and drank 20 oz of water. I drove over to White Rock Lake to begin my long run. I decided to run about 5 miles before the rest of the group arrived since I was planning on going about 15-16 miles (instead of the group's typical 9 miles). I made it back after my first 5 miles and joined in with the group. Off we went. Patty and I started out together and managed to make it around the entire lake stride for stride (9 miles). I always run faster with Patty. She pushes me to go harder and faster. I certainly appreciate the encouragement and competition. After finishing my 14th mile we went back out and brought in the remainder of the group. Total run distance 15.75 miles. Average pace: 8 min 10 sec per mile. That's over 20 seconds per mile faster than last weekend...thanks to Patty.

The new shoes did better this week. No new blisters or other concerning pains/swellings/etc. I should mention that I have now lost 2 toenails thanks to running long distances and have a third one on its way out. That reminds me of a great marathon shirt that read "Toenails are for wimps." I agree.

My body is still holding up pretty well. Left hamstring is still having some issues but the knees and ankles feel strong. I only have about 6 weeks of really hard training remaining. Then it's taper time.

This week's total:
Swim 10,571 yds
Bike 141 miles
Run 36.5 miles

Countdown: 62 days

Saturday, May 20, 2006

GU Packs Attack

So far I've had a rather "rough" weekend. Started out this morning with a 20 mile ride while my training partners finished up an open water swim at the lake. I joined up with them after the swim for my next 55 miles of riding. I was loaded up with energy bars, energy drinks and GU packs. Unfortunately one of them exploded in my back pocket and proceeded to drip down the back of my shorts, all over my new seat, and onto the back of my bike. This stuff is the stickiest stuff you can imagine. Well now I had it on my hands, my shorts, my seat, my bike. Everyone thought is was a real hoot. They even got a picture of me licking my seat--I'm sure that will surface somewhere. I, on the other hand, didn't find it so funny. For the next 55 miles I could feel my bike shorts "drying" onto my ass. I know that sounds horrible but that's exactly what happended. At the end of the ride I had to peal them off my butt. They were now crusty as the sugars in the GU had congealed and hardened. Also, one of my water bottles became "cemented" into its cage on the back of the bike. I had to wet it down with water to loosen the strawberry banana GU holding it firmly in place.

Of course this all happened after I fell off my bike at a stoplight. It happens from time to time if you don't get your foot out of the pedal clip in time. Of course all the cars at the intersection found it quite funny. I am now experiencing a very sore wrist (broke my fall in order to save the bike) and a severely bruised ego.

The ride today went okay. It was a hard 75 miles. The wind was in our face most of the time. The hills seemed steeper than usual and my legs felt sluggish. My current training regimen is heavy; but it has to be. This is the Ironman.

I finished out the ride with a 30 minute run at 1:30 pm in the Texas heat. It must have been 96 degrees and not a cloud in site. It hurt! However, I just kept my feet moving and slowly the time started to drop. I managed to count to 1,450 (by ones) at some point during the run. This just helps me pass the time.

Tomorrow should be interesting. I am planning a 16 mile run. Hopefully the legs (and lungs and heart) will allow it. Slow and Steady. That's the plan.

P.S. No GU packs tomorrow. Too Risky (and sticky).

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

An Epic Weekend

This past weekend proved to be a big one for me. Managed to ride a hard 84 miles on Saturday with the fellas. Two of the guys we joined are Cat 2 and Cat 3 semi-pro cyclists. They abused us but it felt good (sounds strange to say that). Finished with a very painful 3.5 mile run afterwards. I was dehydrated and overheated. Need to hydrate better at the end of the ride next time. Managed to get a great nap on the couch afterwards however.

Sunday morning woke up and headed to White Rock Lake for a long run. 16.5 miles later I had finished my longest run to date. Unfortunately I wore new shoes and they rubbed me some blisters on my left foot. Note to self...don't break in new shoes with a 16 mile run. Surprisingly the run felt great despite the pounding I dished out to my legs less than 24 hours prior. I am certainly starting to see the benefits of the past 5 months of hard work. As the race nears I find myself getting more and more excited. I can't wait to race on July 23rd. There are so many amazing people who have gotten me to where I am today...too many to list here. You know who you are. Thanks!

Friday, May 12, 2006


I mentioned last week that I had sent out the letters asking friends and family of my father to contribute to my fundraising efforts. Well, the donations began to arrive via the Internet on Friday of last week and via the mailbox by Saturday. Since that time there has been a amazing outpouring of support on behalf of my father. I have been both humbled and overwhelmed by the generosity of so many people. As of today I have received donations from 26 people/families. Unbelievably these donations total $4096.20!

Many people have been including little cards and words of encouragement for me. More importantly they have been expressing how impressed they are by my father's perseverance, determination, and drive. I hope to continue to funnel this amazing energy and support into my training. As the race gets into the final hours and my body tries to quit I know my mind (and heart) will be lifted up by everyone's support. Thank you again to all of you for your encouragement and willingness to help me honor my father.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Tom Landry Triathlon Race Report

I raced in the Tom Landry Sprint Triathlon this past weekend. This was the first tri I ever competed in 3 years ago so it's fun to go back do the race each year. This year was even better because many of my training partners and frieds were at the race (a contigent of about 10 folks). I told myself to approach this race a little differently than others. I have trained a great deal for the endurance aspect of Ironman racing but this would be Sprint race. I past years I did not have quite the level of endurance I currently possess. Therefore I decided to race this Sunday "all out." I planned to have nothing left at the end. I the past I always saved a little on the bike because my running was the weakest aspect of my race (still is by the way).

Woke up at 4:45 am and ate my standard bowl of oatmeal, banana, and 16 oz of water. Arrived at the race site by about 5:40 am and people were just starting to trickle in to the venue. Got body marked and had the obligatory bike check performed. Found a great spot on the end of the designated bike rack and set up my bike and other equipment. I had a good time wandering around and visiting with other friends. It's also fun to look at all the amazing bikes people bring to the race. There are guys out there with rear wheels that cost more than my entire bike. Of course those are the guys you try and beat just for fun.

After wandering around for 15 minutes I had to use the bathroom and found my way over to the Port-O-Lets. Somehow I managed to not lock the door properly and some guy opened it up as I was getting re-dressed. I didn't really care but he was certainly shocked and embarrassed. Got in a quick swim warm up then the waiting began. Lots of people were late and the race was not going to start on time.

Finally, at about 7:15 am the first swimmer entered the water. This race is a tough one because the swim takes place in the pool. You have to go down and back the lane then cross under the lane line and do the same thing in the next lane. You basically "snake" your way across the pool. As usual people fudged their swim entry times and bottlenecks immediately arose. Rather than letting the faster swimmer(s) pass these folks just kept on going. At one point I was stuck behind 3 other swimmers. Thats when things tend to get ugly. There is foot pulling, kicking, name it; whatever it takes to get ahead of the slower swimmer in front of you. After clawing my way ahead of these guys I had a pretty open swim for the final 150 meters. Touched the wall and jumped out to a final time of 6:14 (about 6 seconds faster than last year). Without the traffic I should have been able to go about 5:50.

Headed to the transition area and quickly put on my socks and bike shoes. Next came the sunglasses and then the helmet. My helmet didn't seem to be fitting properly. That's probably because I had it on backwards. Fortunately I discovered my mistake and turned it around before heading out on the course.

The bike course was a two loop distance 15.5 miles. I felt fast. My legs were making circles and I was in my big ring and powerful gears. Unfortunately the road surface was a mess and I was getting thrown all over the place. People were losing water bottles out of their cages. Many of the bumps were on the roads that passed under the highways so they were in the shade and you couldn't see them until you felt them. Despite these challenges I found the course to be fast. I got into a duel with a guy riding a beautiful Kestrel Talon with a Zipp disc wheel in the rear and a Zipp 606 on the front. He and I battled back and forth for about 10 miles. It felt good to pass a guy riding a bike with a back wheel that cost more than my entire bike cost. Unfortunately with about 1.5 miles to go he pulled away and made it into transition ahead of me. However, I was ecstatic about my bike ride. I averaged 23.5 mph (a new personal best). Best of all, I still felt like I had alot of energy left for the run.

I made it into T2, changed into my running shoes, and off I went. The first 1/2 miles felt fast. My legs were still strong and knew they could carry me home. Miles 1 and 2 were a little slower than I wanted (or at least they felt that way). At mile 2.5 I got caught by Kyson (training partner). He was flying as usual. At mile 2.75 I caught a couple guys and then made the final turn for home. Overall the run felt okay but I found out later it went alot better than I thought.

Final finishing Time: 1 hour 9 min 33 seconds.
Swim time: 6:13
Bike Time: 39:23 (average 23.5 mph)
Run time: 21:22 (6 min 54 sec per mile)

I was amazed. This was my fastest 5K run ever. I have never broken 7 minutes per mile...and this was after hammering on the bike for 40 minutes.

Overall, I was quite happy with the race. I ended up placing 13th overall (out of 425 people) and was 6th in the 30-39 year old age group. If they had done the age groups correctly I would have been 3rd in the 30-34 year old age group. Too bad, I would have liked to get a trophy to give to Rachel. Maybe next year. This race was a huge boost to my confidence. Next stop: Lake Placid. Back to endurance training.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

It's Race Week!

I'm excited because it's a race week. No the Ironman is not this week. Rather, I will be racing at the Tom Landry Center Sprint Triathlon. It is a special race to me since it was my first. The distances are short and therefore it goes by very fast. It's an all-out sprint for the line. Typically only seconds separate you from the next 5 guys in your age group. It is always fun to go back and do a race you have participated in the past...just to see if you are getting faster (or slower). This weekend will be great because there will be about 12 of my triathlon friends there as well. We should get a good group shot at the finish line. Of course my favorite part will be backing down my mileage this week to allow my legs a little rest and relaxation. Of course then it's back to the grind with only 80 days until the gun sounds for me!

Monday, May 01, 2006

A great Ironman Video site

Check out the following link for a great video about Ironman (about 5 min long)