Tuesday, August 29, 2017

IM Florianopolis ~ The 2-8-7 Race Recap

A solid night's rest.  It's dark outside and raining.  It's time to get going for Ironman Florianopolis.  A quick bite to eat.  I grab my special needs bags, my nutrition and a few other last minute items and head out to the athletes village and transition area to drop these items off.
Saying Good Morning to my beautiful girl
A little reminder to myself while peddling
It's a beautiful morning for an Ironman
After dropping these items off, I then went back to the hotel.  Instead of staying out in the cold, rain for a few more hours, I decided I would go back to the hotel room, stretch, roll out my back, hydrate, get in a few more calories and just relax in a quite and warm atmosphere.  I figured I would expend less energy staying warm and dry inside rather than cold and wet out.  I would also be able to chill and relax.
I got back to my room and gave my Ironbuddy Hal a call that I was back and getting ready to go.  My gear was all laid out, my hydration and my food was all set.  45 minutes to go time....what shall I do??  How about getting on social media to thank all those well wishes and supporters?  Sure why not.
It seemed so bizarre to me to be hanging out in my room on the computer with less than an hour to go before an ironman race .  Soon enough, I needed to go. Hal and I locked up and headed out the door for the beach.  
It's about time....Let's Do This!!
The weather was a bit overcast and cool but the rain had stopped.  Phew....who wants to swim when it's raining??  I lubed up, put my wetsuit on.  Yep, wetsuit legal in Brazil! I was able to splash around and loosen up for a bit.  I gave Hal a hug goodbye and headed for the starting line.
This was my 1st race in the 50 -54 age group and we were the last wave to take off.  This was the most interesting swim course I have every seen.  Most swim courses that I've done are rectangular or trapezoidal in shape.  This course was like writing a squared out capital letter M backwards.  The starting line was  the bottom right corner of the M and on the shore.  You ran down the beach and into the oncoming waves.
That's me in the white cap
You swam out approx 1050 yards or .6 miles to the top right corner of that M.  I stayed to my usual game plan and hugged the inside lane of the buoys.  During our practice swim there was a strong current coming into the shore and from left to right.  Today it was not as strong but it was in the same pattern.  My practice swim prepared me for my angle of swimming and approach to the water.  Growing up on the ocean helped me to attack the waves and take off into the surf.  I made a conscious effort not to go out too fast and settled into a real nice rhythm.  Yesterday I was concerned I was even going to make it to the starting line and right now in this moment, as several other moments in this race, I was soo incredibly happy doing what I was doing and appreciating where I was in the world.  Before I knew it, it was time to make my first left turn.  275 yards later another left turn and .6 miles back to shore.  The swim back to shore was great as you were able to ride the current in.  I found a fellow faster swimmer and tucked in behind him.  I was able to conserve some energy by drafting off of him and then body surfed my way back to the beach.  Running onto the beach high fiving Hal, around a fence and back into the crashing waves for the second half of the swim.
I observed the waves take out a few more racers and again gave thanks to growing up on the shores and beaches of Long Island.  I hopped over a few breakers and dove right back into it.  I was having a blast and thus far, best part....no back issues.  I continued the second half of the swim with no issues.  I was able to maintain a decent distance between myself and other swimmers as not to ruck over one another.  I couldn't seem to find anyone that I could latch onto and draft so I just swam.  Before I knew it I was at that final turn and heading back to shore.  Current with me, I increased my stroke rate and relaxed my breathing allowing the water to do the work.  As I got closer to shore I noticed people standing and having there legs taken out from the waves.  I chuckled to myself and just enjoyed the ride as the surf took me to the sand.  I was able to see Hal again for another quick high five and then into the changing tent.   My back was feeling pretty good as I took my time to change out of my wet clothes and into bike kit.  I used this idea of maximum comfortably in Boulder IM '16.   Knowing I wasn't pushing it due to my back pains my plan is to be as comfortable as possible.  Bike shorts have greater padding in them then tri shorts so why not?  I took the extra time to outfit myself, checked and double check that I had all that I needed.  I was debating whether I wear my sunglasses or the shield that attaches to my helmet.  I never wore the shield before and my stomach turned a little on the thought of trying something new in a race.  But a voice inside said, go for it.  I believed the shield would be better protection for my eyes with all the rain.  I decided to go for it.  I then spent a few minutes stretching out my back and hips. It was cold and rainy and I didn't want to tighten up.  Out of the chair and on my way to get my girl for a 112 mile spin.  All in all I was happy with where I was at.....Physically & Mentally.  Very different from just 24 hour earlier when I though Hal and I might just stay in the hotel today and drink our faces off.  I didn't know it at the time but I was sitting at ...

Swim: 1:13:03
T1: 15:34

My 2-8-7 game plan had me at a combined 2 hours for swim and T1combined.  Currently I was at 1:28 combined.  32 minutes better than planned.  At the end of the day I did about 20 minutes better  in the swim and about 10 minutes better in transition than I had expected.  I'll take it!
I caught Hal again before I took Bella out and we were off.  My plan on the bike was to be just like in Boulder.  Peddle until some stiffness or about 25~30 miles into the bike and then pull over and sit, lay down, do what ever I needed to stretch out.  Just take it easy and manage the bike section of the race. I felt great with my nutrition and my game plan.  I headed out of town on the cobblestone type of road.  Thank goodness this stretch wasn't much more than a mile or so.  We'd now be out of town for approx. 55miles before we turned around for our second lap.  The course was relatively flat with 4 decent climbs.  The rain continued to come down but I tried to stay aggressive.  At approx mile 20 there was an off ramp clover leaf that dampened my spirits of staying aggressive or put me in a reality check.  I was going a bit fast and trying to make the turn but I couldn't slow down fast enough and cut the turn tight enough due to the rain.  I thought I was going into the cement embankment or my wheels were going to slide out from underneath me.  I took a deep breath and attempted to gain control of the situation and I did just that.  Note to self....any downhill turns lay off the throttle for now on.  At about mile 25 I caught up to Sandi, she was looking great out there.  Something that wasn't looking so great was my Garmin Watch.  Go Figure!!  Two days earlier, I took Bella out for a ride and everything was in perfect sync with my power meter and my Garmin watch.  Of course, not now.  The readings had me off the charts over 1400 watts.  I actually couldn't fully comprehend this and thought it was working fine.  Do I normally peddle at 140 watts in an IM or 1400 watts??  Though when I slowed down some and rode easier it was registering as 0 watts.  How could this be?  I was still producing power.  It couldn't be ZERO.  Well then I also must not be producing 1400Watts.  DAMN!!!  I guess I can't count on reading and measuring my power output.  I'll just keep peddling with what feels good.  About 30 miles into the bike, I went to wipe my shield and of course the lenses popped out.  I don't know how but I managed to catch the lens preventing it from surely getting crushed under my wheel or from one of several bikes that were behind me.  I slowed down and pulled over.  I worked to put my lens back in and tried to figure out how I popped it out in the first place. I was getting a little amped about not riding and losing time on the clock.  Then I thought, dude, just relax. Use this as a break.  Enjoy it.  Work your back some and get back into the game.  5 miles later I saw the flashing lights of the lead vehicle escorting the 1st place racer.  I wondered who it was.  The guy looked familiar but I was 100% sure.  It felt like a long time before I started getting lapped by the other pros.  Damn that guy in the front must have a huge lead.  Little did I know at the time it was fellow Boulderite Tim Don.  Tim hails from the UK but also trains at Rally Sport and resides in Boulder.  The huge gap between him and 2nd place was because Tim was on his way to set the World Record for the fastest Ironman race.  Needless to say I never saw Tim on the course again.  He was probably finishing the race at or about when I was beginning my run.  Before I knew it I was at the turn around for the second lap and there was my Ironbuddy....
We're wet, cold and tired but having a blast!!
I got off Bella for a few minutes to move around some out of the saddle and the chat with Hal.  I was having a fantastic day.  My back was so so but 1000 times better than in Cabo, my last attempt at an IM where I pulled myself from the course, right about where I was right now distance wise.  I felt like I was riding fast but also felt like I was starting to slow down.  A hug and a kiss and I was off again.  The second lap was much like my first, rainy at times, difficult heading up the few inclines, taking it easier on the downhill and turns.  I still to this day and amazed at Tim's feat and bike split, wondering how he handled the course so fast without losing control of his bike.  Every race, I seem to get a song stuck in my head, particularly on the bike and this race was no different......Volare was the song of the day.  I was belting it out loud and loud it was.....

Volare, oh, oh!
Cantare, oh, oh, oh, oh!
Nel blu, dipinto di blu
Felice di stare lassù
Nel biu, dipinto di blu
Felice di stare lass

I was passing fellow racers singing at the top of my lungs and I would hear them laugh as I rode by.  I rode into a long tunnel and it was VOLARE  OH, OH!  A few times during the remainder of the day, I would see people in the race and they would look at me smile and call out....Volare!!!!  For some strange reason, I felt it connected us.  Here I am singing Volare...Cantare at the top of my lungs during the middle of an Ironman race in the cold and wet when other people are fading and struggling mile at 100 into the bike, I am dancing and laughing and singing in the saddle.  I thought it was pretty f*cking funny that this English speaking American is singing an Italian song in Brazil where they speak Portuguese.  I felt light and very happy.  It is just now as I type these words that I think about the words from the song and how apropos it was to sing it at that time........

Flying, oh, oh!
Singing, oh, oh, oh, oh!
In the blue painted blue.
Happy to be up there.
In the blue painted blue.
Happy to be up there.

My maternal grandparents came to mind a few times during the bike portion of the race and again just now, I wonder if it was them that put this song in my head as they looked down at me from above in the painted blue sky.  Who knows??  I'd like to believe this is true.  Perhaps it was them who was also with me on that hairpin corner.  I got off my bike three times here in Brazil to stretch out my back.  Each time for about 10 minutes.  In Bouder I had done the same thing but Six times.  I didn't feel I needed it as much here which made me happy to think of the progress my back had made.  Although I was in great spirits, I was also ready to get off of Bella.  My back did have about enough of riding.  There was a definite decrease in my power.  This was probably more so due to the lack of conditioning than anything else.  Although looking at my Garmin my power numbers were still off the charts as I was peddling at about 1000 Watts.  One final turn, a short stretch and I was heading back towards transition #2 to call an end to biking for the day.  Bella and I had another great ride together.  Little did I know for myself on this day timewise how good it was.
Bike: 6:31:52
T2: 15:56
My 2-8-7 game plan had me at a combined 8 hours for the bike and T2combined.  Currently I was at  about 6:48 combined.  1hr 12 minutes better than I expected.  Again, I had no real clue at to my time as I wasn't out there comparing it to the 2-8-7 game plan.  I was just racing.   I did about 1hr 10 minutes faster on the bike and again about 10 minutes better in transition.  I'll take it!

All that was left was walking the marathon.  I'm not too sure many people set out on their day saying, "Man, today I am going to walk a Marathon".  But that was all part of my plan.  Swim and ride and then coast the last 26.2 miles  It wasn't a coast by any means.  I did set off walking through town which was a little odd as everyone was cheering and yelling for athletes and here Hal and I are walking down the block talking.  A spectator ran out on the course and joined us as I had my Colorado shorts on and he wanted to chat about Colorado with us.  Pretty funny but all good.  In transition, I had changed out of my cold, wet 303 Bike Jersey and bike shorts and put on my dry Nuun Jersey and Colorado Running (Walking) shorts.  I continued to rock 303 with our ball cap.  I felt like I was fully representing and head out of town.  


Around mile 3 there was this hill.  I was quite surprised that such a hill would be in the marathon of an Ironman let alone in any marathon.  My knees were definitely achy after that 10k portion of the race, predominately due to the down hill sections.  It was during this section that Sandi had caught up to me.  Like before, she was moving well.  She had a nice jog on.  Little by little my feet started to pay the price of being wet all day.  I could tell that one toenail was off or hanging on and that blisters were starting to form on both feet.  Even though there were times during the marathon I wanted to run, perhaps out of shear boredom, I couldn't.  Save to play another day became my motto.  My knees hurt, my feet were blistering, I was wet, the evening started getting cooler and now my back was starting to say "Hello, remember me??"  It was a long marathon.  I was doing what I set out to do, in the fashion I laid out for myself.  I continued to hydrate, to intake calories and attempted to keep myself as warm and as dry as possible as the rain persisted on and off for all of the 26.2 miles.  This was the slowest marathon I have ever completed to date.
As we started the day cold, wet and smiling, so did we end it!
2+8+7 = 17 Two hours combined swim and T1, Eight hours combined bike and T2, Seven hours for a walking marathon equals the required time it takes to cross the finish line and be called and "Ironman"  17:01 and you DNF.  I completed the marathon in 7:06:47.  Six minutes and forty seven seconds slower than I had planned.  Combine my run walk with my bike and swim along with the transitions times and I was a 6 time Ironman finisher.  I took flight to the finish crossing the finish line to have my Ironbuddy Hal right there waiting for me.

What a crazy whacky 3 years and 6 months of Ironman Triathlon racing it has been.  Although I had to drop out of IM Cabo at 2 different times in the last 1.7 years due to my back, I have been #TrulyBlessed to have been able to cross the finish line 6 times in those 3+ years.  To have the love and support and fortitude to keep going.  I love racing and everything about it.  The healthy lifestyle, the hard work, being pushed and seeing what my mind and body & spirit can do and endure, the countless friends and relationships I have formed, the love and support of my peers and family memebers, the feeling of being absolutely humbled by my fellow athletes all along while traveling to some pretty great places.  Oh did I mention that I sometimes manage to have some fun doing them too??
We've finished 3 of my 6 Ironman races together

Moving onto the second hand #6
Six time Ironman Finishers "Marty & Bella Nera"
"Fly me to the Moon let me play amongst the stars"
Post Race Bloody Mary's are for Finishers
Swim: 1:13:03
T1:      15:34
Bike:   6:31:52
T2:      15:56
Run:   7:06:47
Total: 15:23:12

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Here we go again

Here we go again.....
For those following my Ironman path, the above video, taken less than an hour to start of Ironman Florianopolis, should come as no surprise.  Why should things be any different on my pursuit for the 6th Ironman finish as my 1st Sprint Race?   Here we go again.........

I left Colorado with, what I thought, a very solid game plan.....Two-Eight-Seven.  I packed up Bella and off we took for Brasil.
Three planes and over 25 hours later we landed in Florianopolis for the South American Ironman Championships.

I arrived in Brasil the Wednesday before the race.  Just enough time to get the lay of the land, check out parts of the course and handle registration. I spent most of Wednesday organizing myself, unpacking and stressing my body to be in sync with the time zone change.  I attempted to stay awake through my travels and straight through Wednesday night.  This way I could crash hard Wednesday night and wake up Thursday aligned with the local time.  Thursday morning, after breakfast, I left the hotel and walked to the swim start.  My hotel was just off the beach and I wanted to figure out how I would get to the starting line for Sunday.  I got to race starting line and met up with fellow Boulderite Sandi.
Sandi and I after our prerace swims
She had just gotten in from her swim.  My goal was to do a 25 minute easy swim.  Just to, you know wake the body up.  Well, strong currents and my stubbornness to get a feel of the course and water pushed that to 45 minutes.  A bit more exertion then I had wanted.  Oh well......registration was up next.
Traditional Registration Pictures 

#2241 is now registered and in the house.  I walked around the athletes village and checked out the transition area.  It is a 1 transition area race.  This is nice as it makes prerace bag drops easier and also great for spectators.  The weather was iffy, Hazy, Hot and Humid one minutes, chilly and breezy the next.  Friday was the race briefing so another trip to the Athletes Village to do such.  Later in the afternoon, I took Bella out for a spin.  We prerode parts of the course.  Just about an hour or so.  I did a full inspection of her parts and double and triple checked my power meter and Garmin connection.  My last IM in Brazil saw me race with no power meter readings as my Garmin and power tap decided they didn't want to talk with one another.  I didn't want to go through that again.  All was fine!!
Riding through the neighborhood to loosen up the legs

OK so you may have to turn your head sideways for this bike video.

It was a real nice ride to loosen the legs up.  At night, I went to the prerace athletes dinner and then the skies opened up.  Holy cow did the skies open up.  It was a thunder and lightening show for the ages that went through the night.  It didn't appear that the rain would cease anytime soon.  Not only did the rain appear non stop on Friday evening but my old Iron Buddy Hal flew down from Rio to join along in the Ironman festivities over night as well.  Hal got an early morning run in and we met up afterward for breakfast.
A little lunch and a lot of catching up
We spent the day catching up and getting things ready for the race.

Later in the day, the rain had stopped for a bit and we decided to take Bella in for bike drop.  We caught a shuttle to the Athletes Village and waited on a fairly long line.
Bringing Bella to the bike drop
We got up to the front only to find out that we needed to have my bike helmet with me for check in.  So back to the hotel we went to get my bike helmet and the rain began to come down once again.  Turn ourselves around and back to the Athletes Village we go for a second time.
I'm baaaack, this time with my helmet
We get up to the front of the line to find out we are a little over an hour early to my scheduled bike drop time and they wont allow me to check in early.  Now we are waiting outside in the cold pouring rain.  We are not the only ones that this occurred to as race officials pulled anyone that arrived early off to the side and made us stand there and wait.  It might have been a good idea to have someone at the checkpoint of the beginning of the line as people waited well over an hour on line to get up to the front to be told they needed to wait an additional hour outside in the cold rain at 8pm the night before their ironman race.  Needless to say tempers were rising as the crowd grew restless and angry.  Although I wasn't part of that drama, I had my own side story going on.  My back kept tightening up. I spent the better part of the last several hours, the night before an Ironman, standing on lines in the cold rain and my back was not having fun with this.  Typically the day prior to a race, I like to take care of my errands early, get off my feet, hydrate, eat my prerace meal and call it a day.  This was not going to happen this race.  Although I tried to remain in good spirits, inside I was thinking....maybe I'll just stay in bed tomorrow.  I don't know how my back will hold up racing tomorrow if I can barely move right now.
Hal, Bella and I along with thousands of other bikes
A slight break in the rain as I put Bella down for the night.  I was at least grateful that they gave us all plastic bags to cover our bikes so that they weren't exposed to the elements through the evening.  I kissed my girl and whispered to her that tomorrow we ride again.  Ironman starting line #8.  We dropped out together a few months ago on our last attempt at approx mile 60 on the bike due to back pains.  How I wanted to finish IM Florianopolis with her tomorrow.  But at this moment in time, I had serious doubts I would ever get to clip into her peddles after the swim.

One long ass night was over.  The night before a race unlike any I had ever seen before.  My Ironbuddy Hal was right there besides me the entire time.   Cold and wet we finished officially getting me all set for the race and went back to the hotel for my traditional prerace pasta meal.  Unfortunately the waiter stated there was no red wine to be had as I customarily have the night before a race.  Even though I saw glasses being served at other tables by other waiters.  I was too tired and aggravated to argue and just wanted my room and bed.  I still needed to put my nutrition together and get my head into the game if I was going to have any chance of putting another notch  on my IM belt.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Two ~ Eight ~ Seven

In November of 2014 I flew down to Brasil to visit my IronBuddy Hal and compete in the inaugural IM Fortaleza.  It was a great experience and afterwards over a few cocktails, I decided I would return to do IM Florianopolis in 2016.  Well 2016 came and I was still in a bit of hurt with my back and was hesitant to make the fiscal commitment with airfare, hotel and race fees once registration was open.  After completing IM Boulder in August of '16, I realized I could do IM Florianopolis but at that point the race had already sold out.
I attempted to do IM Cabo instead since IM Boulder went off without a hitch and well, we all know how dismal that turned out with my back, forcing me to drop out about mile 60 on the bike.  And so began the arduous task of trying to come back once again without undergoing any sort of invasive therapy or surgery.  I basically took off the remainder of October and pretty much all of November.  In December I started to run (ummm jog) again as Jessica and I signed up for Rock n Roll Arizona 1/2 Marathon in January.  Running was the only thing that allowed my back to feel decent as compared to biking or swimming, which both put a lot of stress on my back.

After that January race, I continued to run and at the end of the month decided to add swimming back into my routine.  I would only swim with a pull buoy though.  I did that for a few weeks as the pull buoy acts as a floatation device and lift my hips and legs putting less pressure on my back.  I then went for Full Lava Pants.  This is similar to the pull buoy but allows you to kick rather than using your legs to hold the buoy in place.  Since IM Florianopolis is a wet suit legal race, it was my thought that the lava pants would mimic the actions of the bottom half of a wet suit.
March rolled around and I thought it was time to get back in the saddle and on the bike. I was concerned that that training in all three disciplines would aggravate the back and lowered my run miles as I increased my bike mile.  Bella was very happy to be back out in the action and the early days saw Kerry and I making the reacquaintance with Winston.  Eddie joined the party and our weekly rides would begin.  I then started leading Boulder Tri Club B rides and more people joined our band of merimen riding the roads of Boulder, Loveland, Berthound, Erie, Westminster, Longmont and such.  I added midweek rides back and forth to work weather permitting.  And all was good in my training world.  I knew I was behind where I would like to be with a race approaching but I didn't want to rush this back/spine.  I would find myself reminding myself that IM Florianopolis is a no pressure, no stress, enjoy yourself in Brasil kind of race with your Ironbuddy.  If all goes well there I would have plenty of time in the season to continue to train and get stronger and do an "A"race later in the season....say November on some tropical Island perhaps??

March and April were great strong riding months and the swim was coming along quite nicely.  Increasing my yards and mileage along the way.  The running.......all but disappeared.  A few measly miles here and there.  But nothing as to what I would "normally" be doing.  I was spending my time listening to my body and giving and taking what I could.  Logging the hours in the disciplines that put the most pressure on the back.  If I could get to the marathon with enough time, I could walk it, if need be.  Just get me to the marathon and we'll figure it out from there was my mindset and what my body seemed to like as well.  Towards the end of April Natalia returned from Florida and another weekly riding buddy was back in my life.

More importantly, I was having a blast being back out on the bike and riding.  I'd mix in interval training, some nuero work and speed work along with the long easy rides.  I also realized I had a lot of pictures of me peddling Bella with friends and a pig.  The week before I'm set to take off for Brasil, I do all my "normal" pre race week things.  I have two great swims at Rally and go for an easy hour ride in the hood.  Making sure to stop by Winston and the Oreo Cows to say hello.

This past week I also made two stops to visit Darcie and her magic elbows for deep tissue massages to loosen up the back.  Then there was this little thing of turning the Big 5-0 and entering a new age group.  So Brasil will be my first race in a new age group.  Joining the ranks of the older guys category and I am ok with that.  I don't typically race against other people when doing an IM race.  Sure it is nice to look at the numbers afterwards and see where I fit in with the rest of the peeps my age.  And yes, every once in a while I'll see an age on the calf of someone and say, I can catch them or damn that guy just passed me and he is in my age group.  But at the end of the day, I race because I love being out there and moving and growing and having a blast.  It certainly is my hope to finish this race but I understand that it is not necessarily up to me alone but the powers to be also play a key role.  I raced very smart in Boulder last summer and finished.  I went into Cabo last fall with the same game plan and dropped out because of my back.  Here I am 7 months later with the same mentality of healing my back and racing smart so that I can finish the race and yet continue to play in this life of mine.  Race smart?  How so? What's the game plan?? What are you going to do???  There is a time limit on an Ironman, there must be some set of clock goals??
I know you're all on the edge of your seat.   The answer:



Yep - If I can follow this simple equation then I should/could finish the race.  2hours for the swim + transition, 8hours for the Bike + transition and 7hours for the marathon totals 17 hours.  The amount of time allowed for one to cross the finish line and be an official Ironman finisher.  It's a long day and certainly not ideal or optimal for great athletic performance but it is one that can get me to the finish line and  I can save the PR attempt for another day.  All the work is done now I just need for race day to come.  

18 hours and counting till Ironman Florianopolis begins and a promise from 2014 is fulfilled.