Rev3 Cedar Point 2012 – Half-Rev Race Report: A Perfect Return to Triathlon

The announcer at the Rev3 Cedar Point Triathlon swim start on Sunday morning was irreverently making fun of all of the OCD age groupers who were tripping out about their final preparations, with athletes aimlessly wandering around the beach nervously chatting and asking the simplest of questions to anyone who looked seasoned enough to ensure they hadn’t missed an important detail. He called it T.P.D.  Tri-Panic Disorder and described it by pointing out that statistically 80% of the athletes there had bachelors degrees, 35% of the athletes had masters degrees but on race morning T.P.D. makes everyone a complete idiot, demonstrated by a significant drop in IQ points. He further went on by saying that the vast majority of the age groupers would NOT be happy with their performance, walking into their offices on Monday morning grumbling about how they had a horrible swim, a horrible bike or a horrible run; obsessing about how they could have shaved another 15 seconds off of their transition time if they only had ponied up the extra $100 for carbon fiber shoe laces. He asked: “Does anyone EVER say they had a good race?”

Well I am here to tell you that I had an AWESOME race on Sunday, and even after having been racing or coaching in endurance sports since the mid 1980′s, I felt like I was a complete beginner again and had all of the same butterflies that a first-timer would have. I haven’t raced since 2008 when I had an absolutely miserable experience that told me enough was enough given a whole slew of physical, emotional and mental issues that afflicted me during the prior year and continued on through 2012. Let’s go to the tale of the tape. In 2007 I raced Iron distance at 178 lbs, training like a pro by riding Bear Mountain and Tinker Hill in New York with the Race with Purpose crew every week. I was lean, mean and ready to rock. I still remember buying my first wetsuit and the salesperson at Sports Basement in San Francisco saying, “You are exactly how this wetsuit is supposed to look” (I completely ignored the obvious desire for her to make a sale ;-) But, you know what, she was right, I had the prototypical multi-sport look.

Fast forward to 2012 where I toed the line on Sunday at a svelte 211 pounds (which is 14 pounds less that 2011, but 33 pounds heavier than I was in 2007) and dreaded going through my triathlon drawer because I know that all of my clothes would make me look like a Chris Farley in Tommy Boy, a fat guy in a little coat.

The result: 6:23:52, which back in 2007 I would have laughed at, but today, I am absolutely thrilled with. I swam in 45:57, biked in 3:01, and the ran err shuffled, errr dragged my left leg in 2:25. But here is the kicker, in 2008 I did Tupper Lake Half not knowing that my body was all jacked up and I swam in 49:01, biked in 3:25 and ran. err walked in 4 hours with my heart rate while walking pinned at 165 bpm while thinking it was only minutes before my life would end.

On Sunday in Sandusky, (an unfortunate name for our race location) I had an absolute blast and smiled the entire race, quipping with other athletes and volunteers along the course. The only other triathlon since June of 2008 was two months ago at Lake Milton, an Olympic distance race where I came in last, no not last in my age group, LAST! I had no idea what to expect on Sunday and while the run was the run was the run, which won’t change until I replace a few things in my body, everything else was absolutely perfect. I honestly thought it was 50/50 if I would even be able to finish the race, so for me, crossing the finish line was truly a victory and while this wasn’t my fastest race by a long shot, it may be my most successful race ever.

I’ll do an actual race report later with things that other people can learn from about the race, but I really just needed to vent and say thanks to everyone for helping me to embrace yet another new beginning with even more great experiences to come.

So there you go, Mr. Announcer, here’s a triathlon race report that is completely regret free.

RAGNAR Cometh – If we survive that long

So if you’ve been following our feed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/whitelinefever you’re now aware that in a little over a week, me and three other endurance freaks are heading out to San Antonio to run the most circuitous route we can find to get to Austin Texas in the RAGNAR Texas Relay. I invite you to check out our blog at www.teamwhitelinefever.com.

I think all of the team members agree that by the time we actually get to the starting line, the hard part will be over. How can I say this? Well, this process is right up there with Ironman in terms of confusion, mixed messages and frustration. Don’t get me wrong, when you speak to the co-founder, Dan, you get an incredibly reasonable, cool guy, but the people that he has working for him do not seem empowered to apply common sense and over the past few months have done little more that read from scripts and logs, information which we can read for ourselves.

To bring you up to speed, here’s the deal, a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, Long Runner Rich called Texafornia Brett and asked, young Padawan, “How would you like to run 200 miles with me?” Texafornia as usual drinking from the marrow of life replied, “Hell, yeah!”. Yours truly, equally an idiot, responded when Brett asked for other idiots to join him. Then Herr Professor Erich jumped into the fun, believing that killing himself by running 200 miles in Texas heat was a better option than facing the other crap in his life. There you have it, the fab four signed up to run 200 miles on October 24th and 25th.

While the other teams have 12 runners, we are hardened endurance athletes so someone decided that we should sign up as an ultra team. But even that wasn’t enough on the suffering scale. Long Runner got special permission for us to register with only four runners when even the ultra teams normally have six. Thankfully, nobody has suggested dropping the team down to two runners because I’m confident that one or more of us would respond with the traditional “Hell, yeah!”

So Long Runner checked with the RAGNAR folks and confirmed we would be running with 4 runners and would be rotating one runner every hour until we were done. Additionally, we received extra good news when we found that the run would only be 182.4 miles, less than the projected 20 miles. What this all meant is that we went about our daily lives running for an hour at a time over and over knowing that on race day, we’d probably run 6 five to six-mile stretches each – challenging but certainly doable.

Here is how RAGNAR describes their race on their RAGNAR home page:

“It’s really quite simple. Get a bunch of friends together (or we can help you find team members who’ll quickly become your friends) and start running.”

No plans, no restrictions and using your common sense? After the recent years under the thumb of North America Sports Ironman Gustappo techniques, we were giddy as school girls at a Jonas Brothers concert.

And then it happened. The RAGNAR Race Bible. Rich received an e-mail about needing to acquire volunteers and telling us that there is a Race Bible. This Race Bible spends most of its content dedicated to the acts that will either create time penalties or disqualifications, and in short, our plan of alternating runners every hour was thrown out the window. According to the Race Bible, we are required to run two prescribed consecutive legs, anywhere between 6 and 16 miles and to rotate on a prescribed basis. Because we only have 4 runners, we still have to rotate as if we have six with two of the four runners filling in for so-called “injured runners”.

What does this all mean?

  • Runner 1: Rich
  • Runner 2: Brett
  • Runner 3: Adam
  • Runner 4: Erich
  • Runner 5: Injured (Rich)
  • Runner 6: Injured (Erich)

Basically what this means is that because we cannot rotate based on four runners, we’ll need to sub in runners for the fake injured/non existent runner positions, which means that our rest periods will be further reduced and runners will be disadvantaged further. To our credit, we did ask the RAGNAR people why this was an issue, in other words, why was this rule in place given that a prudent person would assume that for a recreational activity, a rule is put in place for either safety reasons or to ensure that no team has an unfair advantage. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how this helps safety or how us rotating normally every hour would create an unfair advantage given that we only have four runners to begin with – we’re already at a disadvantage to every other team. To get the answer to this reasonable question, I called the RAGNAR offices. Unfortunately, even though we talked for about twenty minutes, and I phrased the question in multiple ways, the representative had no answer either, only that that’s what she was told to do and she was only following orders. Now that’s excellent customer relations, isn’t it?

Long Runner story short, Rich finally did get a hold of Dan who compromised by allowing us to rotate our runners two legs a piece but still not every hour. I should point out that Long Runner has tried to resign from being our team captain multiple times but we just continue to ignore him.

So there you have it, the rotation and total miles for the 2008 RAGNAR Texas team White Line Fever on October 24th and 25th will be:

  • Runner 1 – 51 miles – Brett
  • Runner 2 – 57 miles – Rich
  • Runner 3 – 42 miles – Erich
  • Runner 4 – 33 miles – Adam

I want to thank my good team members, given my current health issues, for still allowing me to participate, as well as Cindy who really was expecting me to go to Ohio with her for a Halloween party, for doing the same.

I also want to thank TriBoomer who is assumed the roll of den mother by providing us with his superior management skills, his patience and his time driving us all around and tending to our every need. TriBoomer even took the time to sit down with a RAGNAR racing veteran and interviewed him on the ins and outs of this race. I encourage anyone who is interested in doing a relay race to listen to this podcast of Zen and The Art of Triathlon dedicated to TriBoomer’s interview.

Lastly, we’re still going to be disqualified before we ever show up because we don’t have enough volunteers. Scratch that, we don’t have any volunteers. Part of the Race Bible states that we need to supply three volunteers to work shifts doing all sorts of stuff for the event (basically the same kind of thing that hopeful Ironmen/Ironwomen do the year before they actually want to race so they can earn the right to stand in line at 5AM the next morning to sign up to register for the following year’s race). So if you live in or around San Antonio or Austin and want to help us out, we’ll try and find ways to bribe you. I’ll personally make a $100 donation to your favorite legit charity if you come out. No Rick, the “Hollywood Hill’s Apartment for Wayward Strippers”, and the “Hooters School for Mobility” are NOT legit charities.

So it looks like I’m traveling all the way to Texas to do what I originally wanted to do, spend a few hours with good people running in a place I wouldn’t otherwise run. No medal, no recognition, just the knowledge that in 2008, I spent a weekend doing this. And for me, that’s more than enough, especially given that the alternative was going to a Halloween Party in McDonald, Ohio dressed as either a Rooster or Senator Obama.

OK, I’m pushing the trigger on my plane tickets to San Antonio. Wish us luck!

We Interupt Your Regularly Scheduled IMLP Race Report for This Important 12-Hour Fund Raising Drive

If you’ve been living under a rock, there is this technology called Twitter, you can read more about it on Texafornia’s blog at www.zentriathlon.com. Now Twitterers are mostly self absorbed, self promoting, insecure, procrastinating, self indulgent or just plain self unaware. Hey I know this because I’m a Twitterer and I probably fall into many of these descriptions. We’re all Modern Jackasses, more on what that is in a future post.

So with my 43rd birthday coming up, I decided to see if Twitter had any real value aside from letting people know where I was on an Ironman Bike course so they could have adequate time to leave Charlie’s or Pizza on Main Street to come out for the 30 seconds to cheer me on as I pass by before making that massage appointment at the Mirror Lake Inn – yes Sherpaing can be done with style.

But I digress. On Saturday, I’ll turn 43 years old and against all good judgment decided to do this whole B-Fit, B-Day that Everyman Triathlete Roman Mica has dreamed up. Let’s face it, an ADD endurance coach like me isn’t going to want to stare at lane lines for 3 hours and I founded a program called Race with Purpose, so here I could kill off a few avian flu birds with one stone by participating in Swim Across America’s Long Island Swim. And given that I’ve only ever swam 2.4-miles before and had so much fun doing that, I figured I could complete Roman’s B-Fit, B-Crap B-Day Challenge and qualify myself to get a cool Rudy Project aero helmet so I can wear it backwards and look like a cone head while riding my Trek 1400 at 14mph.

In the process I can also raise a bunch of money for cancer research to honor my mom who got me into this whole endurance sports thing in the first place. Lastly, I could prove once and for all if Twitter has any use beyond making me feel like I have friends that could ultimately replace my stuffed Barney figure that I talk to all too regularly.

So for the past week, I’ve been acting like the program manager for the local public radio station tweeting all sorts of crap to basically encourage (annoy) people into donating $10. With 80 Twitterers following me (get a life), and most of them spending their non-Twittering time polishing their carbon bike frames, I figured $10 from each person would easily raise more than the $500 I’ve pledged. To make it even  more enticing, I’ve committed to matching the donations up to the $500 just to calm the critics out there who think I’m doing this as a way to get out of paying for the honor to swim with jellyfish in the Long Island Sound. Oh, I fell off of my white horse years ago, and don’t think the thought didn’t cross my mind, but in this case, I’m actually sincere and have the funds to back up my commitment.

So what do you need to do to participate? Go to Twitter and specifically go to my twitter page where you’ll find the link to donate. Trust me, it won’t be difficult to find. I can’t post it here or that would defeat the entire purpose of seeing if we can use Twitter for good as opposed for evil as Brett has proclaimed previously. I want Twitter to be Twitterlicious.

What do you get for this? Nothing, well not nothing, you get to add yourselves to the multitude of people who have already donated like @KonaShelley, @JenWillTri, @TriJD, @HolisticGuru, @hak42 (thanks Tanya), @jg_65, @billrisch and @bmatheny and @Rambonie who have all donated more than their requested $10.

You also get to see if I can get dropped off a boat in the LI Sound and can make it back alive under horrible conditions. Read what the Swim Across America has posted recently:

2008 LIS Swim Update
Jellyfish -
Due to the jellyfish in the sound this season we are recomending all swimmers wear a tight fitting full wet suit. If your wet suit is sleeveless we recomend a tight fitting rash guard underneath.
For those who do not want to swim in the sound because of jellyfish, we will for this year only have use of the pool for you to participate. If you know you want to swim in the pool, please e-mail biffy at biffy@swimacrossamerica.org. If you are undecided let us know at sign in if you want to change. Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday.

And since we already know I ain’t doing this in a pool, I’m wearing a full wetsuit and will put duct tape anywhere there is still exposed skin. Hey, the only other tape I had laying around is packing tape and I thought that might not be hypoallergenic. So go to Twitter and donate your $10.

Now switching gears, I have a few thoughts on Roman’s whole B-Sh1t B-Day thing.  Roman, who thought of this stupid thing of swimming 4 miles for 40, 5 miles for 50, 6 miles for 60, 7 miles for 70, 8 miles for 80, 9 miles for 90? Someone’s going to die and YOU’re going to be responsible because all they will gurgle as they’re being pulled out of the water is “I just wanted that Rudy Project aero helmet.” DEAD!

Everyman triathlon my ass! What everyman triathlon at age 88 is going to swim 8 miles, run 8 miles and then cycle 88-miles. Jack LaLane? Maybe you should have included that we need to hold a rope to a tugboat in our teeth to make it more reasonable.

Here are the details and the rules for the B-Dead, B-Myass, B-Day Challenge:

http://bfitbday.ning.com/

Take your age and in any order:

1) Swim the number of miles in the first number,
2) Run the number of miles in the second number,
3) Bike the number of miles in the combined number.

So a 45-year-old athlete would:
1) Swim 4 miles
2) Run 5 miles
3) Bike 45 miles

If you choose to accept the B-Fit B-Day Challenge you must….
Bronze: Do all three (swim/bike/run) during the week of your Birthday.
Silver: Do all three (swim/bike/run) in the three days before, after, or on your B-Day.
Gold: Do all three (swim/bike/run) in 24-hours to celebrate your B-Day!

Important Note: Since “0” Birthdays like 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, and so on are important milestones the “0″ in your birthday represents a 10. This means that on those “0” Birthdays you get to celebrate this big milestone by running ten miles. Whoohooo!

Whatever, I’m a lemming so as I stated above, I’ll be doing the Long Island Sound Swim version.

According to the Swim Across America folks:

“The Long Island Sound Swim started in Larchmont, New York in 1992 at the Larchmont Yacht Club with a 4-mile swim. It was, and still is, dedicated to the memory of Mrs. Kathy Webers, who along with family and friends courageously battled cancer for over a year. Our first year we had 35 swimmers and raised $15,000. In 1994, the swim’s course ended at the Larchmont Shore CLub, where a brunch was held. Without a swim in 1996, the Long Island Swim Committee reformed and in addition to the 4-mile swim added the 1 mile swim. Now, we offer a 6 mile swim as well. We also added the Cancer Support Team and Children’s Hospital of New York- Presbyterian at Cornell Medical Center as additional beneficiaries.

Swimming requirement for 4 milers - 4-mile swimmers must be able to swim 1 mile in 30 minutes or less, as attested to by a Pool Director, Swim Coach or Life Guard.”

NOT!

I freak’n hate to swim and now I have to get a note from my local swimming pool that says I won’t drown on their watch doing this stupid thing, which is, oh by the way, the week after Ironman Lake Placid. Oh give me a break, I did the swim and a loop of the bike there. I just bet that there will be some lame-ass rule that says I can’t listen to music as well similar to the USAT or RRCA rules now. F-that. I’m going out to buy a SwiMP3 or something similar so I can listen to 4 hours of podcasts while I practice drowning myself in the Long Island Sound. What is the level of exposure to bacteria necessarily to contract Hepatitis? Will 3 hours be sufficient or do I need four? Where is lunch served in a four-hour open water swim? Let’s be honest, I’m supposed to swim 4 miles and then I have to run 3? Who thought up of this brilliant parody that is so heavily weighted towards the swimmers? I have an idea, let’s make the swimmers run 40 miles and then they can swim 3.

Roman, I am officially declaring theB-Fit Birthday, the B-F’d Up My Ass Birthday Challenge for the criminally insane. It is incredibly discriminatory. Let me get this straight, a 14 year old has to swim 1 mile, run 4 miles and then bike 14 miles, and a 88 year old man, presumably a bit more frail, has to swim 8 miles, run 8 miles and bike 88 miles? This has got to be some Arian way to kill off the lessor species or an I hate old people statement. And as an older Jew, I take this as a personal assault. Also as an older Jew, as I’m ranting, I know I’m going to do everything in my power to do this stupid thing. Go ahead; brand a number on my arm as soon as possible, I hate it when body markings come off.

Forget Rudy Project and Hornet Juice, you need to be sponsored by Aetna, or Blue Cross or what the hell am I thinking, you need to be sponsored by Mutual Life Insurance Company.

I expect you, Mr. Everyday Triathlete, to financially take care of my girlfriend, my detached selfish and anti-social dog, and my blind/deaf cat after they dredge my lifeless body from the sound. Please make sure someone escorts Cindy to Tyler’s and Kelley’s wedding next week.

But I digress…

Ironman USA 2008 – (Part 3) The Prequel: Registration, Apprehension and Revised Expectations

For many, Ironman USA in Lake Placid begins 12 months earlier when racers, volunteers and spectators wait in lines of varying lengths in what used to be the Olympic Village to obtain a voucher, a golden ticket, entitling them to register for the following year’s race. In Lake Placid on Ironman weekend, silver wristbands and vouchers separate the entitled from the envious.

On that same morning in 2007, sitting in my office in Midtown Manhattan, I was one of the very few who were able to register without the assistance of a golden ticket, helped by an online Active.com registration system that was plagued with glitches, just enough to delay the opening of online registration and making the exact start time somewhat suspect and elusive. During the confusion, I found a more direct hyperlink to the registration site, had all of my data ready to go, and sat at my desk on conference calls while consistently clicking refresh, refresh, refresh on my keyboard. I speculated correctly that the registration would open up a few minutes before the revised stated time, which it did by about seven minutes. And so I was in, a registered and committed member of a selective group of those who began their experience by sticking an entry into their Outlook calendar like a commitment signed in electronic blood from our pricked and still twitching fingers. I was registered for Ironman USA in Lake Placid on July 20th, 2008.

At the time, I was feeling pretty darn good about myself. I had just run a sub 1:25 half marathon, My Half Ironman bike time on a hilly course was under 3 hours, my weight was slightly under 180lbs and I had successfully trained for and did quite well at the Tupper Lake Tinman Half Ironman just a few weeks before.

What happened between then and now can be clearly seen via the race actuals on the right hand sidebar of my blog, but suffice it to say that things went awry. For those who aren’t regular readers of my blog, the short recap is as follows:

  • August – November 2007: Training on track, cautiously optimistic
  • November-December 2007: Loss of family member
  • February 2008 – April 2008: Viral illness
  • April 2008: Training resumes
  • May 2008: Illness returns
  • June 1st 2008: Black Bear Triathlon – Could not generate enough power to get around the bike course without getting off and walking and DNF’d before the run.

Which brings us to late June 2008 and what for many is the beginning of Ironman Lake Placid month. It begins with the Tupper Lake Tinman Half Ironman distance race. In short, after crashing heavily at Black Bear four weeks earlier, I didn’t know what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised that at Tupper Lake I accomplished all of my goals. I completed the swim, completed the bike and completed the run. I finished the race, not in style and not in any great time, but given where I was, I felt very pleased and encouraged by this result. That said, the lingering illness was still apparently wreaking havoc on my physiological systems as evidenced by the fact that I found myself during the run shuffling along at a 12:00 min/mile pace with a heart rate at 172 beats per minute. To put this into perspective, 170 beats per minute is reflective of my lactate threshold effort and the same heart rate at which one year earlier I was running 7 min/miles in the NYC Half Marathon. At Tupper, my primary goals was to finish the race and I knew that there was no way that I was going to do that by running at effort levels exceeding my LT. Dutifully, I reduced my pace to about 12:30 min/mile to keep my effort level below that 170 marker and continued to shuffle along taking walk breaks whenever my heart rate exceeded that marker.

Now let’s be honest, it’s hard to shuffle along at that pace. People that regularly run at a twelve to fourteen minutes per mile pace have my utmost respect if only because they take so many extra steps and are out there on hot courses for so much longer. At Tupper Lake, I was one of them. Race with Purpose Wonder Twins, Joshquatch and Holistic Guru made my day and the day for others by coming back out after the Sprint triathlon to run with the rest of us that were still out there on the Half Ironman course. In the end, I finished with a bike split of 3:25 (16.3mph) keeping my average heart rate at 142 bpm, and a run time of 2:49 (12:54), with an average heart rate of 160 bpm. This was the data that I looked at as I considered revising my objectives for Ironman Lake Placid scheduled for just three weeks later.

For the best trained athletes, Ironman is not to be taken lightly. A 2.4-mile swim, a significantly more challenging 112-mile bike course and a marathon for the run make IMLP a race that is to be treated with serious respect. Given that I was still having trouble running 5 miles around my house without having to stop to catch my breath, I new I’d have to revise both my expectations and objectives for this event. The one thing I really wanted to do on Tupper Lake weekend was to ride at least one loop of the IMLP bike course the day after the race, but I was simply too beat up to do it. So at this point, I still didn’t know if I could push my carcass around the bike course on race day. All I had to go on was a 3:35 Half Iron bike time.

After some contemplation, I decided to participate in IMLP but to limit my participation to completing the 2.4-mile swim and one 56-mile loop of the bike course. My key goal was to complete both before the 1:30pm cutoff. I took my 3:25 bike split and the completion of the Tupper Lake Half along with the fact that my ’91 Ford Explorer had made it to/from both Tupper Lake and Princeton, NJ as positive signs that my objectives for IMLP would be achievable.

To be continued…

Ironman USA 2008 – Part 2 – Desiree Ficker Dissed or Dismissed?

The second gunman on the grassy knoll? Maybe? Maybe not. Explore with me the facts of one professional’s humbling experience and come to your own conclusion about whether this group here had anything to do with it.

Tapering means slowing down on the alcohol consumption

From left to right are super triathletes and TriScoopers Moonpie (I’m ripped), HolisticGuru (Is there quinoa in this drink?), Strouter (I’m not drunk, I used to be), Rambonie (I’m finding about my nature) and CindyJo (Yes, I have multiples of this grateful dead t-shirt, so back off).

To begin this story, let’s work our way back to July 19th when Desiree herself posted this on her blog:

Good morning everyone! I have been a little tardy with my journaling and I still have all the nasty details in my head from Ironman CDA so I will have to come back to that one….

I am about to go jump in the lake out here in Lake Placid, NY. It is the day before the race and I am optimistic that I will come back from the mistakes I made a few weeks ago and have a solid race. There is some great competition up here this weekend and the hilly course is a feat to conquer in itself. We have thunderstorms for the last two days so hopefully those will hold off for us until the run portion. A rain shower on the run always feels nice.

At that point Desiree was looking like this:

Desiree Ficker

At some point between lunch and dinner our mild mannered TriScoopers were innocently day drinking at Charlie’s, a popular hangout on Main Street in Lake Placid, when in walked Desiree Ficker. According to witnesses, Desiree walked up to the host and asked to obtain food, fuel, sustenance and necessary nutrition for her upcoming race. Before Moonpie could jump up to invite her over to the table, the host had apparently ignored this professional triathlete’s pleas for food (Think Oliver holding his bowl out) and sent her on her way. Where she went, no one seems to know but as you can read from her blog entry above, she was still in a very fragile state of mind and the denial of food only contributed to her performance on race day. How poor was her performance you ask? Here is a quote from Ironman Live:

Desiree Ficker gets across the line
“She hasn’t had much luck at this race, has she. Desiree Ficker isn’t one to quit, though — she walked her way across the line here today, as she did three years ago.

Our spotters just told me that when they saw her she was shaking and her lips were blue at the turnaround.

It obviously wasn’t her day, but she certainly toughed this one out!”

In my mind, this couldn’t be any simpler. Charlie’s is directly responsible for Desiree’s poor performance. At the same time, the host was summarily dismissing her, our TriScoopers were being offered another round of drinks ON THE HOUSE. Why, you ask? Obviously to distract them from helping out this poor athlete.

By favoring the intoxicated TriScoopers over this professional athlete, they virtually guaranteed that Desiree would bonk during the marathon the following day. Did Moonpie bonk? NO! Did CindyJo bonk? NO! In fact, Nathan Miller (not pictured here) beat Desiree by fifteen minutes on the run and he clearly has the means to compensate the owners of Charlie’s to act like they didn’t know who she was. Didn’t know who she was? RIGHT! Please take a look at the picture above and tell me that you wouldn’t remember her face. So the question remains, did Charlie’s act on their own, or was there an outside influence that contributed to this unconscionable act?

I’m not saying that there was a conspiracy here but I think that the truth needs to come out. Desiree needs to be vindicated and at the least Charlie’s owes Desiree a pitcher of margueritas on the house.

Ironman USA in Lake Placid – Prelude

You won’t be able to open any of your favorite blogs without seeing something about this weekend’s triathlon happenings. From death and jellyfish at the NYC Tri to the torrential downpours at IMLP, this was definitely a tri-weekend to remember in all of it’s glory, regret, elation and challenges. Here are a few things that I’ll throw up there that I thought about on my drive back to Westchester today, in no particular order:

  • There really are tri-stalkers out there; keep this in mind before dating another triathlete that you may not spend the rest of your life with.
  • You can drive from Albany all the way into Lake Placid with only 2nd and 4th gears.
  • On race morning, I will wake up at 3:30am without an alarm.
  • Quinoa porridge is best made in the dark while wearing headlamps.
  • While wearing headlamps, etiquette suggests not looking directly at the person to whom you are talking, unless you want to blind them.
  • Farrah or any of Farrah’s friends are not to be messed with unless you want to be publicly embarrassed in front of a national audience.
  • It’s Bill, it’s wrapped in plastic; I’m not doing it.
  • I’m not drunk, I used to be.
  • Desiree Ficker got kicked out of a restaurant while Moonpie, CindyJo, Strouter, Rambonie and Guru were offered a round of drinks on the house.
  • If you are going to flat with tubulars, do it in Jay in front of a house rented by eight triathlon coaches.
  • Fix-a-flat for bike tires will get you about 4 more miles.
  • Sherpas need sherpa stylists, given that while the athletes had two transitions and two special needs, the sherpas came back to the love shack four to five separate times.
  • Laptops do not like to drink white wine.
  • Mile 40 is a great place to begin puking on the bike.
  • Jenwilltri must have been going crazy not being up in LP this weekend.
  • Texting in the rain is a recipe for electronic failure.
  • Apparently a floor in the men’s changing tent would have not been realistic enough, so mud wrestling was introduced as the fourth discipline in the sport.
  • Rambo took over North America Sports and fired people during his volunteer post.
  • You really can feel pouring rain while you are swimming, but only until you are kicked in the face.
  • By the time you reach Ironman, you need to be able to a) swim in a straight line, and b) not have to breast stroke and c) not have to stand vertical to sight causing the swimmer behind your to swim up into your now raising heels.
  • Phil never made it to the love shack, but we did leave the light on for him.
  • Wearing a USC Trojan rain slicker attracts HACs.
  • Many elite athletes leave their bikes in the transition area until the following morning.
  • The Ironman cutoffs assume that you can swim the loop in two hours and do both loops of the bike in less than four hours each. Therefore, if you suck on the bike, you’d better get out of the water in under an hour.
  • Bring two pairs of boxer shorts to an Ironman weekend.
  • If there are tri-panties in the sleeves of my clean shirts, they are not mine.
  • Javier, Rambonie, TriBoomer, Nathan, Kristine and the Goose all have vouchers for IM2009.
  • Strouter, Jenwilltri, Michelle, ???, ???, ??? will all be looking at 2010 to make their Ironman debut.
  • and lastly, peelers is just a glorified term for strippers and North America Sports could reduce the athlete fee by simply auctioning off the right to do this job. Why? Because Ironman weekend is like summer camp for adults. Maybe Race with Purpose should put together the first ever wetsuit peeler training class.

Well that’s about it for now. I’ll come back with more fun stuff. In the meanwhile check out the blogs from other members of our party in the right-hand navigator, except for Strouter’s because she’s still waiting for her laptop to dry out.

An Auspicious Start to Ironman 2008

So the 2008 Escape from NYC is completed and in the books. Congratulations to Eugene Koenig who is this year’s successful Escapee. For his efforts he received a one of a kind winners certificate that Christine painstakingly created and since we couldn’t afford to give him a car, we got him a card, a $10 Starbucks card to be exact, along with a bottle of Ethos water because we couldn’t resist promoting their brand slogan of “Helping children get clean.” Okay, so it’s actually “Helping children get clean water” but given how nasty and ripe we all were after this run, we liked our version better.

With 66% of the participants not completing the event, this may go down as the toughest marathon ever. Our percent of finishers was lower than Chicago’s in 2007 and they had 90 degree weather and 90% humidity. Okay, so there were only three people that ran our race and two of us came down with injuries that precluded us from finishing but even Eugene, the ultimate champion and Sole Surviving Escapee, arrived in Scarsdale beat up and heavily fatigued from the ordeal. He especially liked the four rolling climbs and valleys that concluded the race over the final five miles. When Michelle and I rode this off a few weeks ago, her quote was, “the runners are going to hate you for the finish to this race”.

The one thing that we all agreed was that you don’t need to spend $70- $130 for a great marathon experience. This marathon is the only race that includes Grand Central Terminal, Times Square, the Westside Greenway, the Little Red Lighthouse, the George Washington Bridge, instances of domestic violence, bathrooms, police support, crack dealers slinging on corners, Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, a cab driver named Jim, snowmen spectators, views of the Palisades, cheering spectators and aid stations set up by community churches and it all cost nada, nothing, bupkus except a few hours of time. No matter where you live, if you are a runner, you probably already know the best places to run, so map it out, invite some friends and have at it. Sites like 140dot6.com are great resources for creating your own self supported races.

We’ll post an entire report complete with pictures and audio on this event later but the reason why I bring it up here is because it represents a validation that there is no way that I am ready to compete in the Los Angeles Marathon next weekend. This flu beat me up in so many ways and today was validation that my muscles and my supportive structures are in full on melt down leaving me entirely exposed. Specifically, I ran fairly easily for fourteen miles and then my left knee tightened up and the left ITB fired and that was all she wrote. I ran/walked/skipped/stretched/limped for another three miles trying to work it out and then I simply called it a day. I walked with Christine who as having back issues of her own until the 23-mile mark just to put time in and then we hopped into a cab to take us to the finish area at the Starbucks in Scarsdale. Over the past four weeks, I have run three times and cycled five times. To those who think, what an idiot, how would he think he could just show up and throw up a marathon with such little training, please understand that up until I got sick, I had one heck of a base going with multi-hour rides and 18 to 30 mile runs as the norm. And these runs weren’t survival runs but, hey let’s pop off a 23-miler and the go teach a Spinning class afterwards, runs. Additionally, I wasn’t looking to compete in this Escape, simply to complete it and let’s be honest, if I can’t complete 26 miles in some combination of running, walking or crawling, I’ve got a long way to go to get back.

So Los Angeles is officially off the list and in the crapper and more importantly, I lost probably two months of training, a month of being sick and a month to make up for all of the gains made in January that I no longer have. With 146 days until IMLP, I now am faced with returning to base when I really should be starting to build. What’s worse is that as crappy as I have been in getting in runs and rides, I’ve been even worse with my weakest link, the swim. Because I had that lovely upper respiratory thing going on, I have been really gun shy about heading back into the pool, which I desperately need to do.

Getting back on track isn’t rocket science, just revising the plan and expectations a bit, getting back to frequency and consistency over performance. Hopefully next week will be my first full week of training where I am “healthy” and it would certainly be great to do something as simple as get in three rides, three runs and three swims without winding up back in bed with a thermometer in my mouth.

As Erin says, here’s to Better Days Ahead.

42:32 We're off and Running – Boston Build-up 10K

AGK at 2008 Boston Build-up10K

Coach Adam accelerates to finish the 2008 Boston build-up 10K

Reversing the trend of recent years, I finished my first diagnostic race of the year, the Boston Build-up 10K in 42:32, a 6:51 min/mile pace. While I’m still almost a full minute off of my targeted running pace, I’m pretty encouraged given two factors. The first is that the prior two years I’ve run this hilly 10K course in times of 43:23 and 45:08 in 2006 and 2007 respectively, and the second is that I ran this race at 196 lbs, so using the pace to weight indicator, It’s not a horrible result.

The other thing I’m pleased with this morning is that I did not consume any refined sugar last night before going to sleep. To provide a little bit of context, I’m a total sugar addict, and specifically chocolate makes me absolutely crazy. I’ve had periods where I have not eaten chocolate for years because of how it affects me both physically and mentally. With all of the stuff I went through with Wally, I’ve been completely binging from Halloween through the new year, so going to sleep with the shakes, while not fun, was a pretty positive activity for me. Of course it doesn’t make me a very fun person to be around right now but that’s temporary and it’ll be well worth it. I have 20 pounds to drop to effectively compete in July and September and changing my nutritional habits and behaviors is critical.

Back to the Build-up, I was extremely pleased to see that our Race with Purpose athletes were close to the top of their games following the holiday break finishing in a fairly tight little group near the front of the field. As usual, Josh was the first to finish and got a little bit of a wake-up call that he needs to increase his volume and consistency to start preparing for Boston in April. That is going to be one heck of a race and I’m looking forward helping those folks succeed there as they have everywhere else.

Tom Storey resisted every terrific reason not to show up and race, including having raced a 50K the day before and put in a terrific performance of his own, finishing closely behind me. Way to go, Tom!

Cara from In Transit Duo

Lastly, I was so excited to meet Cara from In Transit Duo, a terrific podcast and website hosted by two triathletes from Arkansas and Connecticut. In Transit Duo provides a look at the triathlete lifestyle from the women’s point of view. It also focuses on the travel aspects of multi-sport racing and provides really valuable take-a-ways for the listener. Cara came up to me after the race and introduced herself. She also took a picture of a bunch of RwPers which was really sweet because we didn’t have a camera of our own. Cara and I have met virtually through TriScoop and given that we live about 90 minutes from each other, I’m hopeful we’ll find times to connect and train or race together this season.

I think that’s it for now; the next Build-up will be in two weeks in Ridgefield, CT. It’s my favorite race of the series and includes an out and back course with a steep climb going into the turn around that really will give me a sense as to how strong my legs are and if all of the cycling I’ve been doing has helped my leg strength and power. My plan is to actually ride my trainer for 60-90 minutes prior to the start of the race which means I’ll be racing pre-fatigued but isn’t that what Ironman is all about?

Cheers

2008 Begins: Boston Build-up 10K

Boston Build-up 10K Course Map

January 6th and by my accounts the year has begun and I’m under 200 days from Ironman USA in Lake Placid, my first test of a return to competition. To kick things off, this morning I head about 40 mins north into Connecticut to race for the first time in 2008, a 10K which is the first in a progressive series known as the Boston Build-up series.

The series is designed to prepare athletes for the upcoming Boston marathon in April, but the series looks more like a reunion of armed services personell and hard core triathletes using the hills of Connecticut to prepare for their upcoming race season. 140.6 stickers decorate the majority of the cars and SUV’s in the parking lots, participants “warm-up” for an hour or more on their bikes sitting on trainers that are now portable enough to take with you to the beach or a road race.

The venerable US Army marathon and triathlon teams regularly participate in this series due to its close proximity to West Point, and these folks are fast, super fast. I remember finishing off last season with a race at the Westchester triathlon, an Escape from Alcatraz triathlon and the podium was chock full of army folks in every age category, save for two spots for two Race with Purpose athletes – we so desperately need to get these guys suited up in their RwP orange uniforms. Avi, Erin and I are having a phone call this evening to figure out how to do just that, but Dana and Michelle and Nathan and others should not be standing on the podium in 2008 in anything else but their RwP tri-outfits. Given that we also have a large group going up to do Tupper Lake this season, we only have a few months to get all of this done, so I’m excited that we’ll get cracking on this today.

So I’m off for the first race of the season. I’m too heavy, too slow and too unfocused, but then again that’s what starting is all about. The one thing I do know is that once I start running and the cold air begins to sear my lungs, I’ll quickly remember how much I enjoy knowing that as difficult this is for me, it is equally difficult for the folks next to me and I know how to suffer.

Previously, I’ve finished this race in a slow 43:23 or a 6:59 min/mile pace in 2006 and an even slower 45:08 or a 7:15 min/mile pace in 2007. Like all of the Boston Build-up courses this is hilly with ascents between miles 3.5 and 4 and then again between miles 5 and 5.5 on Flax Hill Road. This goes back to Javier’s 1st law: Avoid all streets with the words “hill” in them. The goal for this series is simple. Do as well as you can early on and then try and hold as much of that pace as you can as the distances increase through the upcoming 15K, 20K, 25K, and 30K races. The harder you train, the greater the chance to reduce the slippage of pace as the distances increase. Partly this is because these courses are hilly, partly because most of us have over indulged and we’ll be getting back into shape and partly it’s because we’ll remember how to race, how to go fast, and how much raw fun it is to taste metal at the end of a race signifying that you gave it your all and left nothing else on the road. That can be done equally well at 7:15′s or 6:15′s. We’ll just have to see what the day brings.

See you out there on the road.

Running to Give Thanks

The Rockland 5-Mile Turkey Trot Course

I read a terrific article that our friend Roman Mica wrote on his blog Everyman Triathlon, “The Everyman Triathlete Gives Thanks“, which was also published on Active.com. In this article, Roman details everything that he is thankful for around the sport that we know and love. I encourage you to check it out.

This morning on a few brief minutes of sleep, more like a few moments of passing out, I went to the Rockland Road Runners Turkey Trot simply because I needed to just get outside. I’m in that strange fog described by those that have recently lost a limb. Over the past 24 hours I have heard Wally coughing, the cracking of his joints when he walks, his crying for food and have even jumped up from bed because I was certain I heard the steady stream of Wally peeing somewhere that he shouldn’t have been.

Cindy and I got up this morning around 3am. She began cooking for our friends that are coming over, a welcome task to focus her mind onto something other than the obvious. I also needed a diversion, something to quiet my mind. So even though I was under-nourished and sleep-deprived I drove up to Rockland Lake to meet up with Avi to run. On the way to quiet my mind, I put my headphones on and listened to a podcast from my friend Stacey Joannes, better known as Simply Stu as he recapped his triathlon year. He along with a number of other podcasters and triathletes including Roman trained for and successfully raced Ironman Wisconsin last September – a goal for me in 2008. This reminds me that I never posted my final race report from that race. The weather here is unseasonably warm with our race beginning in a 50 degree cloak of fog, with Avi commenting that following our orange Race with Purpose singlets will be the only way other racers will find their way along the course.

Truth be told, I just wanted to feel something beyond the emptiness that I have been feeling. I knew that after last weekend’s 60K race I was not going to run my best race but I also knew that any excuses would not be tolerated, not after what Wally went through, not after how we saw him fight to the end. When Wally was first placed in ICU a month ago, I participated in the Cadence Kona Challenge. During that time, seeing Wally struggling for each breath, I knew that whatever I thought endurance was, I had no true idea. I placed a picture of Wally up while I competed in the event to remind me that no matter what my mind was telling me, my body would still have so much more to give.

It was with this attitude that I began to run, right up in front with Avi, who I knew was going to torch me but I was hoping that my ability to suffer would give me an opportunity to stay close. I did not pace this race; I started out at a 5K pace and simply held on. I ran a 6:30 min/mile pace up the hills and faster on the descents. When I passed the point that I would normally be finished and still had two miles to go, I began to hurt and I welcomed it. My breathing was labored, with air coming in gasps, and I held on. In fact when two cross country team members passed me, I sped up to stay with them stride for stride. My brain was disconnected from my body by this point, with only a single phrase and picture in my head, “Wally wouldn’t quit!” All I was doing was trying to survive, and then with a final mile to go, I sped up again. I never looked at my watch, as that would have required thought, I just ran and when I felt that I had nothing left to give, I made my legs turn over even faster. Making the final two right turns toward the finish, I ran side by side with the cross country runners who somehow I had caught again and then I went numb. My measured maximum heart rate is 193 beats per minute and I knew I was pinned in the red for the final quarter mile. I didn’t care. I thought of Wally gasping under sedation for his final breaths and all I wanted was for my heart to explode out of my chest. I just wanted to do something to stop the pain I was feeling that had nothing to do with the race I was running. And so I ran past the athlete in front of me and sprinted under the American flag and across the timing mats, gasping for oxygen and almost falling down in my extended hypoxic state.

I don’t know what I expected as I stumbled to bend over a folding chair to have my chip removed. As my heart rate began to come back down, I realized that nothing had changed. That nothing I did could approximate the experience that Wally went through and that he was still dead and we were still without our family member. Uncontrollably, I began to gasp again, but this time it had nothing to do with the race. I simply couldn’t breathe. And then I began to cry. I have no idea what the people around me must have thought and I couldn’t have stopped if I had wanted to. I was gasping and gagging and crying all at the same time, holding myself steady using the folding chair in front of me as best I could.

And then as quickly as it started, it stopped. Without thinking, I did the only thing that I could; I began to run. I went back out onto the course and ran the final mile with those that were still out there. They were at that stage where they were giving it everything they could and I was simply putting one foot in front of another. Not knowing I had already finished, runners gasping for their own PR’s grunted to me encouraging remarks, like “Come on, you’re almost there.” Or “You can do this.” That’s the thing about this community of endurance athletes. We support each other sometimes without even knowing why. To them their comments meant one thing, to me they were interpreted completely differently and they were no less valuable.

I said goodbye to Avi, who ran another awesome race and the tears begin to swell up in me again, having nothing to do with the fact that he kicked my ass. As I drove back home to Cindy and the rest of our family, Henry and Ellie, I finally looked at my watch. My time wasn’t a PR but it was the fourth fastest 5-miler I’ve ever run and the second best time on this particular course. My heart rate during the last mile was 197 beats per minute and my pace was still 6:30. On this day that was all my body had to give, just as it was yesterday for my very good friend.

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