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.