Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I Tri (ed) it and I liked it!

Yes!!!!!!! I didn't come in last place.  
Not in the race, not in my division and not in my gender.  Ok, ok so I didn't set any land speed records but I was focused, as Coach Eric told me "don't be distracted. Be the distraction" well accept when I was yelling "More cowbell, this song needs more cowbell" at a spectator and almost rode through a turn.  A heart skipping moment of the race and one of the funny moments as I have to laugh at myself.  The race to me was fun and funny combined with a great learning experience.

My game plan was simple.  Marty "Run as flawless as a race as you could and run a race, not do a workout."  Perhaps sounds like a pretty daunting task to ask to be flawless as a first time racer.  Run this as a race, with maximal effort.  That part to some is easy enough to me maybe the harder goal of the two.   

Flawless to me simply means error free.  I mean, I'm swimming, running and biking not doing astrophysics.  So flawless or error free to me was while in the transition area, make sure I don't forget anything.  Don't start the run while still wearing my helmet from the bike.  While racing make sure I fuel and hydrate properly.  Looking for calories every 45 minutes to an hour.  Hydrate at the transition areas and take with me on the bike.  Use the water on the course for the run if needed.  All very calculated and easy to me.  I've walked the transition areas, biked the course had a decent feeling of when I would be where and how much I should ingest when.  Its an easy science and the race should only last 1:45 minutes or so.  I could get through without fueling and probably without drinking much.  But I wanted and needed to practice this stuff for longer races and ultimately Cozumel.  Get into that rythm and mindset.  So I might as well start the pattern here and now.

The maximal effort part, I worry about blowing up, going hard the first 5 minutes but then having to suffer because I burnt myself out.  On the other hand if I am too soft then that is not maximal effort and it is just another zen zone workout.  Hell, I run about the same pace for a 1/2 marathon as I do when I run a full marathon as when I do a 5 or 10 k.  One tempo, one pace.  Will today be different??

Coach Eric with his final words

So in the final conversation with Coach Eric it came down to "push it but don't burn yourself out and then give it all at the finish line."  Be finished at the finish line.  I think I could do that. 

To me this is where some of the funny parts and definitely the learning part start to creep in.  Back to the transition area to get my wetsuit on and get some warming up in.  Go for a swim for 5 minutes to feel the cold water and loosen up.
Here we go!

Definitely feeling a little behind timewise and the crunch of not geting a full and proper warm up in.  Will this come back to haunt me??  I put on my wet suit and head down to the water.  It is packed!  People doing laps in the small beach swim area.  The race starting corrals, also packed.  This is one of those times that you are in a crowd of 1,000+ people and feel completely alone.  I do a few warm up laps and feel relaxed and thinking I need to get into my starting corral.  But which do I choose??  The corrals are based off of your time in 100 yards.  I have not a clue what my 100 yards time is.  I start to eye the crowd.  There is a novice corral at the end. No time even given just the words "Novice".  Hmmm way to lift anyone's confidence but I slink my way into that corral.  I'm sizing up the people around me.  All types.  Young, old, large and small.  I start thinking hmmm, I can take that one.  I gotta be faster than that one and then the words of my coach came to me...."be the distraction, don't be distracted" and I stopped thinking about them and focused on myself.  I ran through a mental checklist.  I reviewed the transition area for the 1,000th time in my head and was feeling good about that.  Let's get this going is all I could think.  Let's do this.  I was definitely less antsy than I am in a marathon starting corral.  I was moreso at peace.  Perhaps because I had less expectations of myself and a time to finish.  The National Athem begins. Not live, just a recording with no words.  What a shame I think.  Surely someone would have volunteered from our community to come out early to sing the Anthem.  I take off my bathing cap, put my hand over my heart and start singing as I always do.  I realize, I am the only one doing so.  Or that I can see at least.  Every guy had his cap on and not one person was singing.  By the end of the song about 5 people surrounding me were joined in song as well.  I was proud of that.  May have been my proudest moment of the day.  Weird how this affected me.

And the gun goes off!

As I approach the starting line, I remember to high step it into the water.  1st step to be flawless as a few people face plant into the water trying to run into it.  I remembered what to do and I was off and swimming.  Not even 2 minutes into the race, I realize that I can barely breath.  Huh?  I am not panicking, I'm not hyperventaliating, I just can't breathe.  Is my wet suit too small?? too tight??  I feel like I can't expand my chest and get a full inhale.  Oh boy this is gonna suck.  I am not even at the first of three bouys out and I have to stop swimming.  Am I giving up?  What do I do?  I attempt to pull or stretch the suit out in order so that I can beathe properly.  But to very little avail.  I feel like I am hunched over and bent at the waste.  Damn.  Wait..."don't stop moving, keep moving" even if it is the doggie paddle don't stop moving rings in my head.  A 2nd piece to running a flawless race for my game plan, don't stop moving.  So I continue on alternating between a somewhat of a freestyle stroke and a doggie paddle so I can come up for air.  In the crystal clear reservoir water it was easy to navigate to the bouy.  NOT.  Bodies swimming around me, banging into me.  As I am in my stroke I keep hitting peoples feet and bodies.  I realize that when I am able to swim, I am actually swimming faster than those around me and I try to navigate myself between them and just go.  I then decide to get to the inside so I don't even have to worry about banging into folks and I can just stroke and doggie paddle my way to the end of the swim.  And here starts what felt like my 1.5 mile journey of a swim in a 1/2 mile course. There were several times when I was actually completely perpendicular to the other swimmers.   And so began my zig zag of a swim.  I now resorted to head down swim hard till you can't hold your breathe any more.  Pop your head up to see how far off course you are.  Do the doggie paddle so you keep moving.  Get some air and sunbmerge yourself again in the cloudy muck of the reservoir.  Head down and repeat.  A few 1,000 times. I can see the beach and the shore and I am finally there.  Part one of the course complete, now let's get out of here and head to the tranistion area and bike.  Hello Houston we have a problem.......Problem, I now need to run or walk there and my legs don't want to seem to work.  J-E-L-L-O  I am completely lightheaded and do what I can to to stay up upright and not passout or go down.  Why is this happening?  I then spot a friend in the crowd cheering me on and  I am able to focus on Kevin and this helps me to somewhat get my legs under me and off I go.  Thanks Kevin, I don't think I shared that with you after the race but I would have gone done if I did not have an object to focus on.  That object being you.  Hey look at that.....Pretty cool, there is this little water spray you go through like a car wash. A human carwash thingie.  I wonder...Is this part of the race course or a fun distraction like the water slide or jello shots at the Bolder Boulder??  Is it for us to really use.   IT IS!!!!  I liked that.  I desired to run through it a few more times but I remember those words ....."Keep moving".  So I did. Unzip my wet suit, pull it down to my waist and AHHHHHHhhhhhhhh air, I can breathe again.
Swim done ....phew

Hey, where did everyone go?  is what I think when I hit the TA (Transition Area).  Am I in last place??   No worries of that, you were in the last swim group or 30 people of the 1,000+ in the race and you swam in circles for god knows how long.  Now, where is my bike?  I know where it is, I walked this out and I know exactly where to go.  Another check mark in the goal and errorless racing strategy.  I see my buddy Colin as I approach my bike and am now feeling pretty good. Major Kudos to Colin for being my photographer and supporting me on race day.  Truly blessed to have such good friends.   Suit off, wipe down, Sun screen, lip balm, lube on the feet, socks on, shoes on, glasses on, helmet on, fuel up, drink up and I am off....Another check on my goal list.  I didn't forget a thing. 
Tough to do 2 thumbs up, 1 will have to do for now.

Bike section, "hill coming out of the park, don't power up it and burn yourself out at the start."  I remember his words and I downshift and spin and watch people power up and fly by me.  Am I that slow?  Dang, I am not looking to catch them, I am not distracted by them, I am running my race.  All in all the bike section felt pretty good with the exception of the beginning.  It almost felt like it took me 5 to 7 miles to get into a rythm.  Keep peddling, "the bike is the only part of the race you can still move forward without doing anything and coast and catch you breath.  Though I am not saying you have to coast if you don't need to, then keep peddling"  Yes sir!  I keep peddling and with exception of the almost running off course for my cowbell folks I realize by mile 10 I have caught up to and passed every person that started out of the transition area and flew by me.  Hmmmm, maybe there is something to what my coach says.  A big interior smile comes over me and for the first time, I am truly appreciating what I am doing and having a ton of fun doing it.  Hello Thomas bib number 342 oh goodbye Thomas,  Hello dude with the billion dollar bike oh wait, goodbye dude.  Just in my own world picking people off.  Not one person passed my the last 5 miles of the bike."Now at the end of the bike it is a sharp turn with rubber mats and it is easy to get caught and stuck and wipe out"  Yes sir.....smooth through this potential trouble spot.  Dismount and let's get our run on and take it home.
The end of a decent bike ride

Body scan...Did I push it too much on the bike??  Nope, not at all.  "Finish strong, be tired at the end and don't hold back"  Just another quick change in the TA and 3.1 miles between me and the finish.  Quick hydration, visor, running shoes and I am off. 

Was wondering if I should sit down or not.
The 2nd TA time was much faster than before the bike.  This finish strong part to me was the scary part. Don't blow up on the run by going out too fast.  Last time you ran this section you had a sub 7 minute 1st mile and finished with an 8:34 combined average.  Race it smarter.  This was the most concerned or worried I had been the entire race. And much like the bike, I am now watching people run by me the first mile out of the transition area.  I "Dump water on your head in this area as the day will definitely be heating up by the time you get to the run section and there will be 3 water stations" Check.  Final mile to go, hello gal with the orange outfit, goodbye, hello guy with the beard, bye bye....similar to when I was on the bike I catch and pass everyone that passed me earlier on the run section.  I feel real good and kick it the last .5 mile trying to time it out so that I am tired on the run the race but don't blow up shy of that finish line.  I have no idea what or how long my kick is.  I fly to the finish.
My signature "Flying to the Finish"
Am I ready for Cozumel........heck no.  Am I ready for the next step....damn straight.

My final kick could have started a bit earlier.  Not gonna beat myself up over that.  I realized that I start slow with each discipline and then I get in my groove, I gotta work on that.  I was 4 minutes faster in the 2nd TA over the 1st TA.    I must pull up my wetsuit as high in the crotch as possible so that it doesn't pull down on my shoulders and I can breathe.
Coach Eric and I
Colin and I ~ Thanks for being there buddy!
Post Race Bloody

I didn't finish in the middle of my age or sex group as I had secretly hoped but I also didn't finish last in them either.  I'll play the pros and cons of what I did over and over and learn from them and grow from them.

Ultimately, I don't care where I came was a beautiful day, I am happy to be alive and participating in life.  Simply I had fun, a real good time doing something that is brand new for me and adding to my experiences of life.

I look forward to the next race.  
Steamboat here I come

Friday, June 14, 2013

Let's Tri it!

Please Lord just don't let me come in last place.

I mean I know I will finish.  Not much in life I have not been fortunate enough to accomplish or experience once I put my thick headed Taurus and Calabrese head to it.  I'll drag my sorry ass with my head cracked open across a finish line if I have to.  But Speed.....that's another thing.  I always have said that this body was meant to and can endure anything.  Just don't exect it to do it in 2 seconds flat.  So please Lord just don't let me come in last place of the 1,500 or so athletes in the Boulder Sprint Tri was my thought when I woke up today.

After a few moments it turned to...."Come on Marty....last place??  You know that is not going to happen to you.  There is going to be a 78 year old lady out in the race that you surely can beat.  There are going to be other poor fools like yourself doing a Tri for their first time.  This will be their Everest.  All that they dreamed of.  There will be folks that are 200lbs heavier than you just trying to catch their breath.  Surely you can cross the finish line before people in both of those catagories.  My one sentance prayer switch to...

Please Lord don't let me be last in my age group. (45-49)

This seems a little bit more reality based then just finishing.  Though it could be a difficult one.    I am racing in Boulder.  The land of unnatural human beings.  The place where ladies give birth to their children right in a pool so that the children can start doing laps once the cord it cut.  I'm some smoe from Brooklyn New York who at 45 decided I'm gonna sign up for an Ironman.  I haven't really ran since May 27th.  Thursday was the first time I swam in over three weeks.  I'm still a bit tired from some of the drugs I have been and still are on since my guest appearance as "Severe Allergic Reaction Hive Man!"   Maybe I can trip some guy in the transition area or solicit the help of some friends (Colin) coming to cheer me on to release the air in a few bike tires of people in my age group while we are out on the swim.  Yeah, that could do it.

Dude, it is just a sprint distance.....a 1/2 a mile swim, a 17.2 mile bike ride followed by a 5k.  That is a piece of cake.  Again stop concerning yourself about speed.  But that damn word sprint rings so loud in the back of my head.  In adventure racing, I hated the 12 hour sprint races and longed for the 5 day race courses.  The 12 hour sprint where people were flying through the course while I plodded along.  But give me a multi day, allow me to run in my Zen Zone and this tortoise would pass many of the hares.  I keep on plodding along, singing and laughing the whole way through.

Then the words of my coach (yes, I even have a coach) Eric came through to me.

We have to get the mind frame of performing. Not "working out"
Race on sunday.  It has to be a MAXIMAL EFFORT!

He's right.  I need to get out of my little Zen zone and push myself.  You've entrusted yourself to your coach, allow him to do his job and attempt to be coached.  You are not going to come in last place.  You are not going to be last in your age group.  And you know that asking the Lord for silly things like this  doesn't mean anything and cheapens the conversations that you have with him.  He will give you the strength to do anything you want to do but You Marty still have to do it.  So now I have set my goal as far as a race goes.  Those items that I am going to work on are:  Not to be distracted.  Focusing on the task at hand.  Watching other people and what they do is not going to help you get out of the transition area faster.  It is not going to help you swim or bike or run faster.  This is a training race.  Be calm, be focused be aware of myself in my environment and learn from doing.  Learn what it is going to be like to swim in the open water with 1,5000 other racers.  Experience what it will be like to get on that tri bike with people all around you and going up to 30+ miles an hour.  Be focus on racing and learning.  This is not my Everest, this is merely a highway overpass I need to take to get to Cozumel.  So this afternoon, I will ride the bike section of the course and learn about it.  I will jog the area in which I will run on Sunday. I will familiarize myself with as much of this course as I can.  Then tomorrow after registration, I will go out in the water and swim in my wet suit for the first time and see what that is like.  I will understand the cold water and feel what it is like not to swim in lanes.  I will walk the transition areas and learn where I need to run and where I will be heading out for the bike.  I will become more one with the course so that I can race my race and not race my competitors nor the course.  And when the race for me has ended on Sunday and as I "Fly to the finish" of my first Tri, I hope to be tired and happy and to have learned and not to have just plodded through the course but to have actually raced it and then of course I will be looking for a beer to celebrate.

OK secret hope.......My Please Lord don't let me be last in my age group. (45-49) has turned to ..........Wouldn't it be cool if this Sunday at the Boulder Sprint Tri, my first Triathlon, I was to come in the middle of my sex and age groups against predominately Boulderites.  Well, see.  Shhhhhh don't tell anyone.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Nature's Balance

Zen Story: Cause and effect – Nature's Balance

There lived an old farmer who had worked on his fields for many, many years. One day, his horse bolted away. His neighbors dropped in to commiserate with him. “What awful luck,” they tut-tutted sympathetically, to which the farmer only replied, “We’ll see.”

Next morning, to everyone’s surprise, the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How amazing is that!” they exclaimed in excitement. The old man replied, “We’ll see.”

A day later, the farmer’s son tried to mount one of the wild horses. He was thrown on the ground and broke his leg. Once more, the neighbors came by to express their sympathies for this stroke of bad luck. “We’ll see,” said the farmer politely.

The next day, the village had some visitors – military officers who had come with the purpose of drafting young men into the army. They passed over the farmer’s son, thanks to his broken leg. The neighbors patted the farmer on his back – how lucky he was to not have his son join the army!

“We’ll see,” was all that the farmer said!

For the last 7 days I have been unable to work out or train.  I've excercised only twice in the last 14 days, the Bolder Boulder and a bike ride the following day.   I am going nuts!!!

Let's back up about 8 years.....Snowboarding in Sunday River, ME.  My favorite resort to ride in the east.  Full day of riding followed by some hot tubbing.  Oh yeah....this is the life.  ouch..what the hell is that rash under my arms and on my legs??

Doctor called it Hot Tub Fungus...or hot tub folliculitis..pretty common in shared hot tubs.

Fast forward 2 years later, Steamboat, CO.......Snowboarding all day long followed by a prelonged period in the hot tub with some cocktails as my Cousin Will visits from NY.  Damn....not again, this time it's worse.  A lathering of steroid cream and some antihistamine and a few days later it's gone.

Fast forward 2 years later, Cabo, Mexico......enjoying the beach and sun and of course the hot tub with my ex fiancee....DOH!  Maybe I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer.  To the drug store for antihistamine and some lotion.  It subsides.  A few days later I am still slightly itchy but not too bad. We decide to take a run on the beach.    By the time I am at the end of my run add my chest, back, neck and stomach to the list of areas that break out with these massive hives and welts.

How come this occurs sometimes in hot tubs but not all the time?  I call all three places of attack and learn that Bromine is the common denominator.  I guess I have a Bromine allergy as I don't break out in my chlorine hot tub in Steamboat at my house.

Fast forward April 2013...I decide I am going to do the Ironman in Cozumel in December.  That means pool followed by hot tub followed by....can someone please smack me upside the head......Hives.

"Um hi, do you have bromine in your hot tub?"  No huh? umm ok.  Do you have bromine in your pool? No huh  ok thanks."

Hello dermatologist......
DR: "Here take this steroid cream and rub it on the spots and stay out of the pool/hot tub."  
ME: "But you see I am training for an Ironman and it is impossible for me not to swim.  I need to learn how to swim."
 DR: "Put the cream on when you get them and it'll go away."
ME: "Ok thanks"

Dr. Bronner's Magic Pure Castile Classic Soap Unlike any you’ve ever used. A combination of organic extra virgin coconut, olive, jojoba and hemp oils, together with pure essential oils, creates a unique soap that cleans effectively without being aggressive and produces a velvety-lather that leaves the skin silky-smooth and refreshed.
Neutrogena....Burts Bees....Aquaphor......Aubrey Organic.....Pangea......lip balms.

As another layer of skin peels off of my cracked lips daily as I continue to swim.
no more hot tubs and immediate cold showers after swimming and making sure every nook and 
cranny gets cleaned by Dr. Bronner's magic Soap.

layers upon layers of moisturizing cream two or three times a day
Friday May 24th about 2pm when my revenue manager walks into my office and says...
"Oh my God Marty, are you ok?""
Ummmm define ok.

My eyes are almost swollen shut, my face feels like it is 1000 degrees and my fingers are starting to resemble sausages.  But it's Bolder Boulder weekend and the hotel is packed and I have to get the Capital Project paper's time to go home.

Hello Steroid cream as I begin to rub you everywhere.  Amazing how you can empty and entire tube of cream in one shot.  I guess no workout today.....or Saturday....or Sunday.  Benadryl you are my friend and although you might make me drowzy, you allow me to continue my daily routine as I eat you like candy every 2 hours.

Hello hives.  A bit sleepy and such but what's 6.2 miles?? 
Hello Bolder Boulder.
Hello Tuesay and a nice 1.5 hr bike ride on my new beautiful TT Cannondal Slice named Bella Nera. Ahhhhhh
Hello Tuesday night at 2am the last time I will get at least 3 hours of sleep for the next 5 days.  Severe break out and welts all on my head, neck and waist.  I am itchy as all hell and can't do anything about it.  I start eating the sunrise and head off to work.

Hello Fat lips....looks like you just went 3 rounds with Mike Tyson.  Not to mention you right eye is now swollen shut.  oh yeah, your neck, shoulders, waists, back, legs, arms, fingers...perhaps it is time to go home turn the AC on high and try to relax because otherwise I am going to go through the walls.

Hello 7pm and urgent care
Hello Steroid Shot in the Ass and a prescription for more drugs.  Start this prescription tomorrow when you wake up and it'll last for 6 days.  Take as directed.

Hello 11pm and waking up completely nuts.  The hives all over my head and face, feet toes.  To hell with waiting for tomorrow to start the prescription.  I'm starting now.  
Hello Up all night and watching the sunrise and listening to Rugger's breathing and his little yelps as I envision him dreaming of chasing rabbits.

Hello Doctor's office and 2 more prescriptions.  That now makes 4 drugs
(lorazepam, hydroxyz, methylprednisolone, cetirizine)  to take and over the counter Benadryl and Pepcid AC and an oatmeal soak, a steroid cream fluocinonide and some gel to put on my skin.

Have I mentioned that I don't even take an aspirin when I get a headache??

Hello unable to wear socks for 4 days because they are too tight and the welts on the bottom of your feet don't care for them too much.

Hello Bouts all weekend long of hives and the jitters and no sleep and being exhausted, and going to work and wondering how far behind I am falling for my Ironman training and driving up to Steamboat to do some work on my house and turning around and coming right back.  Oh by the way you might as well cancel your San Diego trip and race this weekend that you have been training for months for.

Hello Monday and more doctor's.... Allergist and tests and being the human pin cushion and being visited by Dracula as 4 viles of blood are being extracted to test what the heck is making this happen.

Hello my first night of full sleep and 24 hours of no hives.

What gives??

Not a clue, hopefully the blood tests will come back and tell me exactly what.  Though I doubt it.

I think the allergist was trying to be funny when she suggested 

Exercise-induced Urticaria

Not a very exciting blog today and tons of reasons perhaps to be mad or angry or to throw my fists at the gods and question why.  Could I possibly be allergic to working out and sweating?  Does my body react when it heats up and now form hives?  What kind of sick trick would that be on me??

If you know me, you know that I believe that everything happens for a reason and there is some reason I was meant to go through this, this past week.

Like the old farmer said in the begining story....We'll all that I can say to that.