Monday, November 26, 2007

Watch Me Finish

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Week in Review

Another week of rest and relaxation is done. I’m getting pretty darn accustomed to this non-training stuff…..

KJ’s school choir sang Christmas carols at a local shopping market Thursday night. It’s just what I needed to get me in the holiday spirit. It seems like summer just ended….

Next on the agenda was KJ’s book parade Friday. They dress as their favorite book character and then parade through the school. It’s a pretty funny sight. K’s favorite character is Junie B. Jones. She has ALL of the Junie B. books.

I decided it was time to do some sort of actual training. An easy 3 miler Friday afternoon seemed like a good way to get things rolling again. For the first 10 minutes it was awesome. Then my ITB woke up and started rebelling. It hurt pretty badly during the remaining 22 minutes of the run. I think I’ll stick to swimming and biking for next week.

The Indians came to town Saturday…literally. Albany hosts an Indian festival each year and we went out to watch some of the festivities.

Saturday night we grilled hot dogs (the dietary debauchery continues) and then fired up the chimenea out on the patio to make smores.

I’d almost gone to sleep when the flash woke me up….

I plan to get in a couple of short swims and bikes next week. Otherwise, I’ll be grazing on a Thanksgiving feast…or two....

Hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving,

Monday, November 12, 2007

River Ride

We had a perfect day of weather here in South Georgia yesterday. Plenty of sunshine with highs in the 70s. KJ was itching to get outside and do something….and so was I. We loaded up the bikes Sunday afternoon and headed down to the river trail. We ended up with a little over an hour of riding time. We spent almost as much time stopping to enjoy the views of the river.

Heading out.

The first of many stops along the way.

KJ heading down a narrow portion of the trail.

Blazing through a downhill section.

KJ checking out the river.

KJ takes a turn with the camera.

Another view of the river.

KJ decided she needed to do a transition run after the ride.

And we finished off the ride with Gelato..

I’ve done absolutely nothing since IM Flordia. It felt great to get out and get moving a bit yesterday. John wants me to wait another week before doing any real exercise. I’ll be itching to get going by then.

My week of dietary debauchery has come to a bitter end as well. No more fried chicken or tacos followed by Krispy Kreme or Bruster’s ice cream...every day. It’s been awesome eating whatever and as much as I wanted for a week. My blood is probably the consistency of motor oil by now, so it’s back to healthy eating today.

Hope everyone had a great weekend.
Happy training,TJ

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Ironman Florida: Post Race Report

The sun came up Sunday morning after the race and the gulf water was still like glass. I’ve never seen the water down there stay that calm for so many days. People were out swimming as they had been all week. I wished them well and kept my spot on the couch.

We stayed down at PCB through Tuesday. We swam in the pool, hung out at the beach, shopped, played miniature golf, ate out…a lot, toured the marinas, and just generally enjoyed the area. My IT band remained very sore, which made getting around a slow endeavor. Everywhere we went though, there were other folks limping around just as slowly as I was. One particular place we went to eat had most of the seating up a long flight of stairs. It took me a couple of minutes to make it up. We were seated so that we could see the entire stairway. It got to be pretty funny watching the other Ironman finishers climb up.

At one of the marinas

It’s been a week since race day and I’ve had some time to decompress a bit and think about the race. I really don’t know of anything major I would have done differently. My nutrition worked great. I followed exactly what I’d done in training. On the bike, I took in 1 bottle of Gatorade per hour and 2-3 Carbboom gels per hour with water (about half to ¾ of a bottle). That comes to 350-450 calories per hour on the bike. On the run, for the first 15 or so miles, I took in 2 gels per hour with water and drank Gatorade at each aid station, about 300 cals. I also started drinking coke at mile 10. After about mile 15, I took in whatever sounded good…mostly coke and Gatorade. I gave up on the gels after mile 15 or 16. I know I was well hydrated. I peed during the bike 4 times, once in each transition, and probably 4 or 5 times on the run. I never cramped. I felt the tightness that comes before a cramp a couple of times, but I never had a full-fledged cramp. I never felt like I was about to bonk either.

Pace/effort-wise, I stuck to my plan fairly well. My effort on the swim was at or under what I’d planned. The only time I went harder than I needed to all day was toward the end of the bike when the headwind was getting stronger. I kinda wish I’d gone a little harder in the early part of the bike, but, I may have paid for it later. I never had to worry about going too hard during the run. My IT band kept me from going too hard.

What do I need to work on? THE BIKE. Hands down biking is by far my weakest sport. I’m happy with my swim. My run fitness couldn’t really come through due to the IT band, but I’m happy with where my running is. My biking however, is not where I’d like it to be. It is where my focus will be in the offseason.

What’s next for me in 2008? Not an Ironman. I promised my family I’d skip a year and not do another Ironman in 2008. Otherwise, I’d have signed up again Sunday morning with the rest of the crew. It’s gonna be great following Wes, Michele, Lana, Jenny, Trimama and Tac as they prepare for Ironman Florida 2008. I’m shining up my cowbell.
My year will most likely consist of short course racing and working on improving my biking. I may…..MAY….do a half Ironman, but nothing is in concrete. And I’m considering doing our local marathon in March. I’ve also got one other huge endurance adventure I’m considering taking on in 2008, but I’m not letting that cat out of the bag until I’ve totally committed to going through with it.
Otherwise, I’ll be catching up on some things I missed out on this past year… spending more time with D and K, some golf, camping, TV beyond 9 o’clock, etc.

Happy Training,


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Ironman Florida Race Report: The Race

The Swim

Me and KJ before the start

Me and DJ before the start.


The mass of bodies moved quickly into the water and began the 140.6 mile journey to the finish line. The very beginning of the swim was crazy...nuts...chaotic....the whole washing machine churning madness that everyone talks about. But, I expected it to be rough. What I didn’t expect was how quickly it would go from craziness to not so bad and eventually to awesome. It took about an eighth of a mile for the worst of the carnage to end. Then things started opening up a bit. Then for the next few hundred yards, we’d bunch up and slow down, then spread out and get going again like an accordion. I saw a few jellyfish going out but never got stung. Things got tight around the first turn buoy and I got nailed with a kick to the face....a glancing blow however, not a direct hit. After this point, the swim was great. I was definitely enjoying it. I made the turn at the second turn buoy and started back in. I was amazed at how good I felt. I was only breathing every third or fourth stroke. I was keeping my head down, holding good form and sighting every 20 or so strokes. I figured since I felt so good that my time would be really slow. And I was ok with that. I was willing to give up some time to come out of the water feeling good. I didn’t want my day to start out with my energy levels running low right out of the gate. I was totally prepared to go 1.5 hours in the swim and be ok with it. As I stood up and began walking toward the shore after the first loop, I heard Mike Reily say that we were at 36 minutes. Wow. I couldn’t believe I’d done that time and felt this good. I was stoked. I grabbed a cup of water at the turn around and took a quick sip to rinse the salt water taste away before heading back into the water. We re-entered the water and swam across to a big floating Ford logo. There were other athletes around me, but it was like I was swimming alone. Noone crowding in. It was great. I swam fairly straight and stayed on course near the buoys. No zig zagging like in past races. I exited the water and heard Mike Reily call out my name and hometown. Very cool! I unzipped and removed the top of my wetsuit and found a stripper who made quick work of the rest. Total swim time, 1:17:35, a great swim for me. I made the journey from the beach up to T1 and was surprised to hear, “Good swim TJ”, by the person handing me my T1bag. I looked up and recognized the person as my fellow Georgian tri bro Wes. Thanks for taking care of me man! It was very cool getting to meet you.

Now, I’ve never been in a medical tent in a war zone, but the madness that was the T1 tent at this race had to be about as close as I’ll ever come. The first thing that hit me was the change in temperature. It was like a steamy sauna in there. Then the craziness hit. It was complete freakin chaos. Wall to wall people. Folks running around like mad, some laid out on the ground, some in chairs, some standing. I didn’t try to find a chair. I just dumped my bag out in the first open spot on the floor I came to and started getting everything on. It wasn’t too cold outside, so I just put on arm warmers and some cotton gloves. I’d packed extra clothes in case it turned cooler than predicted, but luckily I didn’t need more than the arm warmers and gloves. I finally got everything on, stuffed my wetsuit in the bag, handed it off to a volunteer and headed out of the tent. I was glad to be out of there. I made a quick stop by the porta potty and headed to my bike. A volunteer had my bike waiting on me (the volunteers rocked) and I made my way out of T1 in a total of 10:48 .
1 down, 2 to go....

The Bike

The bike is definitely my weakest sport and the portion of the race I knew would be the biggest challenge. I knew how my training had gone and I didn’t expect race day to be any different. I just needed to ride within myself and not get too carried away.
My plan was to go really easy during the first 10k of the bike, get my heart rate down and settle into a good rhythm, and that’s exactly what I did. There was a constant stream of riders going by during this section. But I stuck to my plan and letem go. Once we made the turn onto hwy 79, I picked my pace up a bit and felt good. The wind wasn’t blowing at this point and all was going well. I made it to the bridge, dropped down into my easiest gear and spun up and over. A few miles after crossing over the bridge, I saw a female athlete who’d crashed her bike. She had road rash on her chin, cheek and forearm....and other places too I’m sure....but that’s all I saw. Someone was there with her, so about all I could do was say a prayer for her and keep going. Her bike looked ok, so hopefully she was able to continue.
There are a few rollers heading out hwy 79 to Ebro, but nothing too bad. We made the turn onto hwy 20 at Ebro and I was still feeling good and holding a decent pace. I was right on track with my nutrition....but needed to dehydrate. The line at the porta potty at the first aid station was at least 10 people deep, probably more like 15. I wasn’t about to give up that much time waiting in line. One of the things that they’d stressed in the prerace meeting was that there had been a problem with athletes relieving themselves in public during the race. They told us the sheriff’s office had informed race officials that anyone seen doing so would be arrested and taken to jail...which would make it kinda hard to finish the race. No going on the side of the road as in training. So, once I got to the point that I HAD to go, I found a road sign near a heavily wooded area and stopped. I leaned my bike against the sign and headed into the woods...well out of the sight of da man. I was quickly in and out...2 minutes tops....and back on my way. I’d repeat the process another three times before finishing the ride.
There were a few steeper hills on highway 20, but I was still feeling good. I made it to the special needs area but didn’t need anything I’d put in the bag. I turned onto hwy 231 and felt the wind pick up immediately....headwind that is. The going got a little rough on 231, but I was still ok when I turned off onto Camp Flowers road. The headwind continued until the next turn. I made it to the turn around point at mile 73 and was starting to get a little tired, but still ok. Once I made the turn around, the headwind kicked up with full force and would continue until I made it back into town. The section of the course on 388 was pretty tough going. On top of the headwind, this road is in pretty bad shape..rough pavement. Compound it all and it made for some tough going. At times I was going 14-15 mph into the wind and working harder than I needed to. Finally I made it back to hwy 79 and turned left to cross the bridge and go back into town. I definitely wasn’t alone in my struggles at this point. Everyone around was having a tough go and I thought one guy up in front of me was going to fall over from going too slow up the bridge. I made it over and made my way back into town and turned left on front beach road. We had a nice tailwind for the last 8 or so miles and it gave me a chance to regroup a bit and get ready for the run. I rolled into T2 and was VERY glad to get off my bike. However, once I got off the bike, I felt an old but familiar pain in my left knee. My IT band had decided to protest. I hadn’t felt it during the bike, but I could definitely feel it now. I got my T2 bag and headed into the change tent. The atmosphere was very different this time around. I took my time, got changed and stretched a bit. I exited the tent and made another pit stop.....I definitely knew I was taking in enough hydration. As I was about to exit transition I remembered I hadn’t turned my race number around to the front. I reached around back to pull it around and RRRRRRIIIPPPP. It tore right off the belt. Both holes tore. Luckily, there was a lady at the exit writing down bib numbers. I borrowed her pen and poked two new holes in the bib. Let me tell ya, it aint easy to thread the little strings on the belt through the holes in the bib when you’re tired. It took me at least two minutes to get those darn strings in. Finally I got it and headed out on the run.
Total bike time: 6:40:36
T2: 6:01

2 down, 1 to go.

The Run

My plan for the run was to hold a pace that would allow me to run the run. I’m really pretty lazy and if I ever started allowing myself to walk...I might not start back running. I didn’t want to walk other than at the aid stations when taking in nutrition. However, starting the run with the feeling of a knife stabbing in the side of my left knee, I knew that my minimal walk plan might be in jeopardy. After a couple hundred yards, the pain eased up enough to be tolerable. I made it to the first aid station and walked through taking in Gatorade and water. The pain in my knee intensified a bit when walking and came back strong for about 75 yards after starting back running. Then, after getting back running, it eased up and I could tolerate it again. I hit the first mile marker in 8:58. A bit faster than I’d planned....the adrenaline at work I suppose. I continued walking the aid stations and suffering through intense pain for the first 50-75 yards after starting back running. The pain continued to ease off gradually as I ran until I walked to take in hydration at the next aid station. I slowed over miles 2, 3 and 4 (9:54, 10:49, 11:12) and found the pace I’d keep for most of the race. I’d planned on running somewhere around 11-12 minute miles including the walk breaks at aid stations.
Each time I stopped at an aid station, it took a little longer for the pain to go away once I started to run again. I started considering not walking.....but I had to take in the cycle continued.
I finished the first half of the marathon getting pretty tired, starting to get mentally tired from dealing with the pain, and really not wanting to make the turn to head back out. Mile 12 was the lowest point of the race for me. Hurting, tired and knowing I had 14.2 more miles to go made me have to dig a little deeper than I ever have to keep going. Once I made the turn at the halfway point, things started getting better for some reason. The pain hadn’t gotten any better, but mentally something changed. I continued to walk the aid stations through about mile 17 or 18 and finally thought, screw it, I’ll stop one or two more times and hope that’ll be enough nutrition to get me to the end. I briefly walked at the aid station at around mile 20 and then again at about mile 23 taking in only coke. Other than that, I ran the last 8 or so miles without walking.

At mile 24 it started sinking in. I’m really going to do this thing. I’m gonna be an Ironman. I picked up my pace and the finish line started drawing me in. I could hear Mike Reily and the crowds as I got closer. I made the final turn onto Thomas Drive and felt like I’d been given a shot of cure-all. The pain was gone, the tiredness was gone and the finish line was in sight. The crowds were going nuts and the energy was off the charts as I ran down the finish chute. I heard KJ scream my name and I motioned for her to come with me. She charged out...and actually passed me. Crap, she’s gonna make me earn it. I did the final mile in 8:46. KJ said she heard Mike Reily call my name, but I don't remember hearing it. We crossed the line hand in hand. A prettty amazing moment.

Run: 4:59:09

Total finish time: 13:14:09

Man was I glad to be done. Glad to stop. Glad to rest. Glad to be an Ironman. There weren’t any tears. The heavens didn’t open up and shine beams of ironlight down on me. Angels didn’t sing and I didn’t suddenly transform into anything other than a tired happy Ironman. I had, however, entered into one of the most exclusive clubs around, and I knew that I would never be the same. And I had an extreme sense of thankfulness come over me, and still do. Thankful to have a family willing to support me through the entire year of training and thankful to be blessed with a healthy body and be able to train for and complete the race.

After we crossed the line, a volunteer was right there with me, asking if I was ok, asking if I needed anything. Once she realized I was coherent, she guided me through getting my finisher’s medal, T-shirt, and hat. Then to a guy to remove my chip and then she handed me off to the photographer who snapped a shot of a very happy and tired TJ and KJ. We soon found DJ and celebrated. A couple of Ironvets from our home town were there to congratulate me and we talked with them for a few minutes. Then we headed into the Boardwalk to SIT DOWN. I didn’t want to eat, I didn’t want a massage, I didn’t want an IV, I just wanted to SIT. And sit I did. For about 15 minutes, then I stood up. OUCH!
We slowly made our way to transition and I went in and picked up my bike and gear bags. It was a pretty funny sight actually. All these lean, fit athletes hobbling around at a snails pace. It truly is a fraternity of pain.

We made it back to the car and loaded everything up. KJ was starving, so we stopped at the most convenient place.....McDonald’s. Oh yeah, I had to have me a Big Mac meal. We made it back to the room and dug in. The salty fries tasted amazingly good after nothing but sweet food all day, but I was only able to eat about half of them and the burger. After eating I was ready for a shower...and found every blister and chaffed spot on my body. We got in bed about 11 or so, but I didn’t go to sleep until about 1am. I woke up about 2:30 and couldn't go back to sleep. I got on up about 3:30am. I just couldn’t sleep. I was starving and pigged out on left over spaghetti. After gorging on the spaghetti, I plopped down on the couch in front of the TV.

Life is good.....

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Ironman Florida Race Report: Prerace

Ironman Florida: Prerace

Wednesday: The drive down to Panama City Beach was uneventful. No turn-arounds to go back for some crucial forgotten piece of gear, no unexpected delays to slow us down, just lots of farmland and open road the whole way.
We made it into town about 7pm local time and made a quick stop by Publix to get the basic groceries for the week. It’s amazing how quickly the basics can turn into a full cart....especially when you have a nine year old helping. We unloaded the car, put everything away, had supper and got into bed around midnight. I never sleep well the first night away from home and this night would be no different. I tossed and turned most of the night and got maybe 3 or 4 hours of sleep.

Thursday: I was up early Thursday morning. Once the sun came up I was glad to see how calm the ocean was. It was like glass. Hardly any waves at all. The weather predictions through Saturday were pretty much the same for each day. I hoped the water conditions would remain as calm as this morning. I woke DJ and KJ up about 8:30 and we headed to registration around 9:30.
There were people EVERYWHERE at the Boardwalk. It was nuts. The line for registration was at least 200 yards long. We made it to the end of the line and slowly made our way towards the registration tent.

Me and KJ waiting in line at registration.

An hour later I entered the tent. Once inside, I had to complete the form, sign the waiver, get weighed, get my race packet, verify my chip and get my backpack. In and out in about 10 minutes. After leaving the tent I tracked down D and K and we walked around the expo. We bought some stuff from the Ironman store and then toured the rest of the vendors. As we were walking through the expo, I looked over and happened to notice Heather Fuhr sitting over on the side of the throughway. Then I noticed Paula Newby-Frasier standing not far from her. How freakin cool is that!

PNF (standing), Heather Fuhr (sitting)

Then we happened up on a press conference with Bella Comeford, Nina Craft, Joe Bonness, and others. Mike Reily was out in the audiance. Man, how many other sports can you get up that close to the pros and rock stars of the sport? Not too many.

Pro press conference

Mike Reily (blue shirt)

We toured around the expo for a little longer and then headed back to the condo. We chilled around the pool and beach for a while and then rested a bit before heading out for dinner. Before heading out for the meeting, I started going through the packet trying to figure out what goes where and what to include.

Digging through the packet

We decided to skip the official pasta dinner and went to Pineapple Wiley’s instead. They have a cool pier there and we decided to eat out on the pier. The sunset was awesome that afternoon and KJ snapped a great shot as the sun was sinking into the gulf (she’s quite the budding photographer).

We made it to the Boardwalk early for the athlete’s meeting. The dinner and meeting was held in a large banquet room and it was already full by the time we got there. I had to grab a couple of chairs for us from out in the lobby. There were a couple hundred folks behind us that had to stand during the meeting. The meeting was not that different than other pre-race meetings I’ve been to, just on a much larger scale and with Mike Reily as the host. The meeting rapped up around 9pm and we headed back and made it to bed around 10:30. I slept like a rock.

Friday: I was up early again and the water was just as calm Friday morning as Thursday morning. The only thing on the agenda for Friday was to pack my T1 and T2 bags, do a short bike and run, check in my bike, drop off the bags and then rest as much as possible.
There was no line at all for bike check-in. I cruised right in and racked my the back corner of transition. I dropped off my gear bags and we headed back to the room to rest.
I was oddly calm. I figured I’d be a wreck the day before the race, but I wasn’t. I actually took a nap when we got back to the condo. DJ made some of her awesome spaghetti and we had an early dinner. I got in bed around 7 pm...yep....7pm and was asleep by 8 or 8:30. I slept like a baby. I woke up once to use the bathroom and went right back to sleep.

Saturday: The alarm sounded at 3:30am and I got right up. No snoozing today...
My pre-race breakfast consisted of 2 scrambled eggs, two pieces of toast with a bit of butter, grits with a little butter (no self respecting Georgian would start such a big day without grits), and a Mountain Dew. Pretty much your average American breakfast. Nothing too fancy.
I was still calm and went about my routine of getting ready. 4:30am came and we headed out for the race. We decided to park at Spinnaker instead of taking the shuttle bus from Wal-Mart. We made it to transition shortly after 5am. Instead of doing bodymarking outside of transition, they had bodymarkers spread throughout transition. This is a great change. I walked right into transition and was able to get right to my bike without any delay.
When I got to my bike to start setting up, the reality of what I was about to do really started to sink in. I’m not an overly emotional kinda guy, but I found myself having to fight back the emotions as I started taking the gear out of my bag. I totally hadn’t expected to feel this way. Throughout the year of training, anytime I’d think about the race, I imagined the point that I might get emotional would be at the finish line, not alone in the predawn before the race. But as the acoustic version of Collective Soul’s Shine played over the PA system and I thought about the year and what it took to get me to this point, the weight of the moment became quite heavy. I thought about my older brother who lost his life at the age of 20 in a car accident and how proud he would be of me. I thought about my father who lost his battle with alcoholism a decade ago and how proud he would be...even though he’d have thought I was nuts. And I thought about the year of sacrifice that D and K had endured and how this day was as much theirs as mine. A tear or two managed to slip by, but I finally gave myself a Chuck Norris mental slap back to reality and pulled it together. Whew.....
After getting everything set up and double checking... five or six times....I found a nice lady to ink me up. I looked around for Lana and Michele to do the deed but didn’t see them. I made the first of several porta potty stops and then met back up with D and K. I got into my wetsuit and we headed down to the beach about 6:30. There were people everywhere. We saw one of the local Ironman guys from back home and talked to him for a few minutes. About 6:45 I gave D and K a final hug and kiss and headed into the holding area. The pros headed out at 6:50. The pro field was huge. Well over 100. Mike Reily started calling out the time remaining. Three minutes to go! The energy level was through the roof. Then Black Sabbath’s Ironman started rocking through the PA. 1 minute to GO! One of the last thoughts that ran through my mind right before the start was, somewhere out in cyberspace my countdown clock is about to hit zero.

No turning back now....

Monday, November 05, 2007

Ironman Florida

What an amazing day.
Tough, hard, long, but amazing.
Finish Time: 13:14:09
I'm tapping this out on my pda, so it'll be short and sweet.
The swim was awesome, the bike was windy on the second half, and the run was a test of pain tolerance and mental strength.
The finish was crazy.

I'm still hobbling around down in Panama City. We'll be heading back tomorrow.

Full report will follow.