Sunday, September 29, 2013

Don't cry for me Tahoe!!

Yes I know it has been forever since my last blog. I have had a ton of life changes between then and now.
I have ran Rim2Rim2Rim in the Grand Canyon with my love. I have lost my job and then started my
own business. I have raced Ironman Arizona (where I blew up at mile 22 of the run) costing me my trip to Hawaii in 2013. I have also completed Ironman Texas for the first time in May of 2013 in a very hot and humid day. Last weekend I completed one of the toughest Ironman races anywhere, when we traveled to Lake Tahoe.
Unfortunately, since last May (see Rim2Rim2Rim) adventure, I haven't actually been able to run
properly. Seems that when running 48 miles across the Canyon in the dark two weeks after racing the 2nd hardest Ironman course I have ever done (IM ST. GEORGE), is not a great idea.
I suffered an Achilles injury back in May of 2012 and thought I could suffer through it, keep training
and it will just go away! Well by the time It got REALLY bad it was too late.
I have done every type of therapy and rehab know to man outside of actual surgery (absolute last option). I have even taken up to 6+ weeks totally off from running. Still no good.

Fast forward to last weekend.
IM Tahoe:

Going into this race I was certain there would be no miracles. I have hardly been able to run, and it has been very ugly, with zero speed work, and very low mileage. So I easily placed this race into my
"C" race category.
I had a meeting with the doctor/surgeon several weeks ago and we (I) have decided that I would get
through Tahoe and IMAZ in Nov., and then have a procedure done 2 days later Nov. 19th to try to fix this thing and get me back to me. (RUNNER)!!!!!!

We headed to Tahoe with very little pressure on my shoulders to perform. This would be my first trip to Tahoe and it would be a great training day and I would not push the running at all. Get through the 3rd leg of the day without making myself worse than I already was.
You see I still have some ridiculous delusion that I still could pull that miracle out for IMAZ.

Saturday, the day before the race it started to get crazy as far as the weather was concerned.
It started raining at 8am and the temps started dropping quickly, then I looked out of our window and it was snowing. This is going to be epic!
It then became what are we going to wear tomorrow craziness.

Race morning dawned, kind of. The sun wasn't actually up, and it was nice and chilly.
before leaving our hotel I checked my phone that said it was 28 degrees and was supposed to drop to 27 at 7am, about the time we would just be getting going in the swim.

The Swim:(1:08ish)
What can I say, the water was 57-58 degrees, and we where about to jump in a swim 2.4 miles.
Mostly the thought of getting out and on the bike sounded even worse.
Mary and I ran out of time and before we knew it we where hurrying to the water with less than 5 minutes to the cannon. We lined up towards the front and i just followed her as far as I could (not far)
and then it was all me, no way to see where we are swimming because of the fog coming off the lake, you couldn't even see from one buoy to the other. I was all over the place, left, then right, then left over and over. To make things more interesting one of the turn buoys actually broke loose and starting floating away, thus making everyone follow it, then all of a sudden the jet ski grabs it and head back the other way and everyone had to change direction again!
As I finally exited the water I was instantly hit with the freaking cold ass sand on my feet. The sand had to be 20 degrees and by the time I reached the change tent I could not feel my feet at all, actually that's a lie, I could feel the extreme pain coming from them from being so cold!

T1 (14:00)
This was a very interesting part of the day, transition #1.
When I reached the changing tent it was absolutely a scene out of a movie. no room what so ever to move and no lights to see. I decided that this would be a complete wardrobe change, as I was NOT getting on that bike in wet clothing. Due to the congestion I decided to change outside of the tent.
(sorry to those that may have witnessed my nakedness).
trying to use my frozen fingers to get my wet stuff on and dry stuff on was very entertaining for those watching. My clothing of choice for the ride was as follows: tuke under my helmet, base layer shirt, jersey, vest, long sleeve shirt over top of that, along with arm warmers and three pairs of gloves, and knee warmers and shorts. This was 10 minutes longer than any T1 I have ever had :)

Bike (6:20ish)
Forgot to mention, due to the craziness in the morning, I never had my Garmin set and turned on before the cannon sounded, so I was screwing with it throughout the swim and bike. I also didn't have the auto-pause setting turned off, so when I stopped it stopped. URGH!!!
Anyway, onto the bike I go, feet are screaming they hurt so bad, I keep telling myself that they will warm up if I just keep pedaling. I was correct, it just took 40 miles for this to happen.
The first 30 plus miles of the bike is pretty fast, and totally in the shade. We have one climb through this area and it is only 1.5 miles at 7%.
As we are just entering Martis Camp (the special private neighborhood) we go past a round about and then through the guard station, this is where we start to get into the first REAL climbs, as I am making myself past the guard house I find 3 guys in front of me side x side going about 2 mph, the only place for me to go was around them to the right, and BAM! my first ever penalty in a race of any kind, lady on motorbike gives me a yellow card for passing on the right. All I could actually do was laugh out loud. This was a horrible penalty with these 3 blocking me, but considering the ridiculousness of this day the thought of a 5 second break made me laugh. Seriously, I will happily stop for 5 seconds at the next Penalty Tent!!!
So with this little gem happening I decide it is time to strip all of these clothes before I start the climbs just ahead. So I pull off the road and take everything off and then re-dress with just my jersey and vest and of course 3 layers of gloves. This takes me approximately 5 minutes, so what!
This next section features a roughly 3 mile climb of between 8-10%,(we do this twice) I tell myself not to push it AT ALL on the first loop of this ride, do not stand up at anytime, and just spin in out in your saddle.
I was passing quite a few people now, and then as slow as we went up we have a screaming descent, I hit high 40 mph here, would have been even faster if not for all the sharp turns. At the bottom of this we make a 90 degree turn at said 40+ mph and you are staring at the famous Brockway Summit climb for the first time. This is just over 2.5 miles, but we do this twice and it is between 9-12%.
Again I spin by lots of riders even though I am only going 5mph!!!
This seems to last much longer than 2.5 miles, but finally the top comes into view and before I know it the descent of 2 miles back to the start of the 2nd loop. This is a welcomed section, I am hitting 50+mph but it goes by to fast. Then we turn west and do it again. Back over that little 7% climb that now feels like 20% (we end up doing this climb 3 times). My quads are feeling the work now, but we have a LONG way to go so just suck it up and keep moving.
Finally I arrive at the Penalty Tent and am very happy to just step off of my bike for a very small break. Then I decide what the hell, I might as well use the opportunity to pee as well. After about a 3 or so minute break i am back on my bike. I have now lost everyone that was within sight and am totally alone on the road for the next 12 miles. Ouch!, but as we get close to the 2nd time through Martis Camp I find lots of people.  My conservative approach the first time through has paid off as I am passing lots of people here and only got passed by one guy. I still was feeling this effort but kept it pretty close to the pace that I went through the first time. As I made one of the crazy descending turns where it says "Slow" I don't go slow and come literally 1 inch for going right of the side of the road as my front end starts shaking uncontrollably. PHEW, that was close!!!!
The next trip up Brockway climb was even more carnage, with many people walking their bikes up and there are two different ambulances helping people as well. Don't know why?
Finally making myself to Squaw Valley where T2 is waiting.

T2 : (8ish minutes)

Very happy to be off my bike. I hobble through the changing tent and again do an entire wardrobe change. I then step out of the tent and two ladies are standing there that are do A.R.T. (Active Release Therapy) I figure what the heck and lay down on their table and have them work on my left hip that has been a major problem because of my compensating for my injured Achilles. So about 5 minutes later I am on my way.

The Run (4:50ish)

Normally this is what I wait for all day long, to use my strong run and catch all of those cyclist. As i said coming into this race though, I knew there wouldn't be this special run coming out of me today. I have been only able to run 3 days a week a best and only did one long run over 15 miles since May.
I figured just run as long as i could until the pain got so bad and then I would just figure out a way to get to the finish line. Even though I am limping I am feeling ok for a while, I was clocking a few 7:15 miles until about mile 6-7 and then just like that the hip/leg/Achilles said that is it for you. Then it began a 19+ mile run a few steps, walk a bunch. I  went to those dark places in my mind a few times where I block everything out completely, but then snapped myself out of it. What are you doing, do NOT dig yourself into that hole. I might have gotten through the marathon a bit faster, but a what cost? I needed to be able to recover from this day asap and hope to be able to save that one last Special run effort for IRONMAN Arizona in 8 weeks. Just be as smart as you can with your effort here, you aren't going to win any prizes today. Just get that medal.
As I was heading out onto the long section of the run I saw Mary finishing up the bike and I knew I was about 7 miles ahead of her and that she would be running faster than I and may actually catch me. I was totally cool with this idea. As I hit mile 12 I decided I should see Mary within the next mile and that I Had to run until I saw her. Just after passing mile 13for me and mile 6 for her, I see her  coming the other way. Yes, now i can walk again, my hip is KILLING me. We stop and talk for a few seconds and then she takes back off and I continue to walk . Throughout this first section of the run I keep seeing Elizabeth Rich and I keep encouraging her, I know she has to be somewhere near the front of her age group. Finally she passes me for good while I am on the side of the road at an aid station trying to stretch my hip out. Eventually I make it back to the Squaw Valley Village, and the turn around for lap number two. I am normally finishing at this point and I still have 9 miles to get through on this leg. Crap!!!!
As the night falls and I finally find out what it feels like to be out on course this late and this dark. The only other time I have finished in the dark of the night was my first trip to Kona, and I found that I have a strange issue with getting dizzy if I take my sun glasses off after wearing them all day, even if it is dark. The 2nd loop was a lot of the same as the first, just trying to suck up the pain and get through it. This is getting really old, so at mile 24 I just decide no matter what I am just going to run this thing in and be done already. As I am running through the forest like bike trail, in the total darkness with my sunglasses on, I seriously could not see a thing except for the little blinky lights on the people going the other way. I eventually hit mile 25, but couldn't see the sign for it and I made the final turn towards the finishing area (the Squaw Village), with about half a mile I see Becky and she runs along side of me for a few seconds and chats with me, then it is the last 800 meters or so through the Village and the last turn to the finish line. The finish of an Ironman is always a special thing not matter how good or bad the day has gone, and this is no different. I am so happy to be able to stop and just finally sit down. I get that hard earned medal, my finishers hat and shirt and head to the massage tent.

Post Race:
I finally sit down and take a deep breath and reflect on what a epic day I had just endured. Then is need my clothes, as it is 40 degrees and now I am freezing. Thank you to the awesome volunteer that went all the way to transition and got my warm clothes!!! As I hung out waiting for Mary to finish up wonders Elizabeth who is looking pretty cold and I try to warm her for a few minutes. after about 40-45 minutes her come my beautiful bride with her medal and a warming blanket. She has done it again. Ironman finish #3 for the year for her!!!
So freaking proud of her and amazed by her toughness!!!!

Tahoe was an Epic day. It had the 2nd largest "Did Not Finish" rate ever, and the only reason it wasn't first was because almost 600 people decided to not even start due to the conditions. If you received a medal on this day, you are tops on my list and you should be very proud of yourself.
Great work to you all!!!

*Thank you so much to all of our friends that cheered for us from near and far, and all of the awesome texts, emails and calls we received from you all.

*Thank you do everyone that helps make this possible for us to chase this crazy Ironman life, namely
Triscottsdale, Endurance Rehab (Nathan Snell), Maximum Mobility (John Ball), Matt Tonkin for taking care of Cadence Running Company like it was is own, and everyone else that had even just a small hand in helping us out.

*Thank you most importantly to my true love, best friend, fellow crazy, and wife Mary for being there to support me and share this trip with. You make me a better person!!! I love you xoxoxox

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"EPIC" Day in Utah!!!

I want to start by saying I have read blog after blog, and report after report, I've seen picture after picture, video after video and I still don't think that any of them do the day justice. One word really isn't enough to describe it either, but the word that was running through my head all day from about half way through the swim until I crossed that finish line was "EPIC".

2012 Ironman St. George will go down without question as the MOST EPIC Ironman in history. It was not just a tough day for the average guy or gal, but for even some of the best Pro athletes on the Ironman Circuit.
*When Meredith Kessler (the female overall winner) finishes her 44th Ironman and says "this was by far the hardest swim/bike I have ever dealt with in any ironman" ,you maybe start to get an understanding of the day. Sidenote: Meredith pulled a Dan Beaver last year at IMSG, and blacked out on the run at mile 22 of the marathon while running in 2nd place and was picked up on the road and taken to the Hospital. , but this day was even more EPIC than that!!!
*Ben Hoffman (the male overall winner) and multiple Ironman Champion, states at the finish "this is the hardest "anything" that I have ever done in my life", now you starting to get the idea.
*Maybe the best of all is the voice of Ironman Mike Reilly, he has called the finish of over 110 Ironman all over the world, in all kinds of conditions, including something like 20 straight Kona finishes, he states that "this is by far the slowest winning time of any Ironman that I have ever been part of",
Now we are talking!!!

My experience is as follows:

The Swim

Mary and I enter Sand Hollow's beautiful 63 degree water with 15 minutes until the start. We are both feeling great and ready to smash the day. After a little warm up swim we line up at the very front of the swim start, I right behind her, and the cannon sounds and we are off.
Now my plan is to swim harder than I have ever before, and try to sight off of Mary's pink swim cap as long as possible. (she is the only pink cap ahead of me) so this should be perfect. We swim the first leg of the swim right on pace working hard, but feeling great, as we approach the first red turn buoy I am perfectly lined up, we make the turn and all of a sudden, like someone turned on a switch I was instantly being pulled off course! What was that? At first I think it must just be that we are close to the shore at this end of the water and we are just caught up in the break of the waves or something? I am struggling to stay straight for the next roughly 200 or so meters to the next turn buoy. I keep telling myself once we get going back the other direction (north) that things would be fine.
I couldn't have been more wrong!!! As I make the turn I start taking in mouth after mouth after mouth full of water. WTF? This is not good at all. I was such a surprise that none of us knew how to react. As Mary's cousin Beth from Miami that is used to swimming in the freaking ocean said. "the hardest part of it was the waves where just one right after another", Exactly, unlike in the ocean where you may have like 30 seconds or so to recover between waves, these where coming every 3-5 seconds, and straight into us. Making it impossible to sight while swimming freestyle without being totally smashed in the face by a 3-5 foot wave. So after about 10 minutes of this crap, I see a paddle boarder and flag her over to me. I asked her what the hell has just happened. She says "we just had one hell of a wind kick up", no shit! I ask if she has any tips on how to deal with this? She simply says " stay as close to the small buoys as possible and stay in a straight line" , wow thanks! Ok, this is about survival now. For the next roughly 1.2 miles or so left in the swim I had so many thoughts run through my mind, One of the overwhelming one was , how where the swimmers behind me going to make it out alive? How was specifically my friends and family going to make it. Beth, Paul, and Shawna Folts keep running though my mind. I knew Mary would be fine as she is more comfortable in the water than myself and I knew I would make it out alive, just really slowly!!!
I more or less did whatever i had to do to get to shore, I may have even invented a new stroke out there. UGLY!!
I remember saying to myself that Utah is a horrible place to hold an Ironman. In 2002 at Ironman Utah in Provo the exact same thing happened, and before they could get everyone out of the water a man lost his life. Was this going to be the same thing? I was certain that they would call it off at some point, but I was just focused on getting the the shore. Hell, I can't save anyone but myself out here!!! Eventually I make the boat ramp and stand up, so happy to be on terra ferma. I step up and Mike Reilly says good job buddy, I look at him and say "it is not at all safe out there", hoping that if they didn't already know on land that it was nasty dangerous, that this might be enough to get them to start pulling people out and cancelling the swim ASAP!!!
As I get my wetsuit stripped off I look up, in a total fog, and there stands Mary with tears in her eyes.
She says to me " I'm not doing this" "I'm not getting on the bike in this wind".
I walk with her to her gear bag and assure her that she just needed to get changed and on the bike and it would be ok. My last words to her where "you just have to adjust your bike expectations" and I will see you at the exit of the the change tents!!
By the time I went back and got my gear bag ,changed and got to my bike i didn't see her anywhere. Well she is safe now, she will either get on her bike or not, I can't to much about it now. So off I went. I went exactly .25 of a mile flying and turned into a head wind that was Shocking! I new we only ha to go about 3-4 miles into this and then would turn for the next 20ish miles with it at our back. About two miles in I pass Mary on the bike. So I know she made it out of the tent and was moving forward. I tell her I love her and to be safe out there on the bike. I keep telling myself that when we got to the main part of the bike course, that we would do twice, that the mountains and canyons would block the winds and we would be just fine. There was no way it would be like that first 3-4 miles all day long, Right???

The Bike:
Now for all the crazy wind and stellar tough bike course, this section was fairly uneventful for me. It was just a lot of the same thing over and over.
As I was just about to hit the part of the highway heading north, Adam Folts catches me on the bike, we chat for a few minutes and I find myself working harder to stay with him. At first I am happy to have someone to work with, but as I try to stay with him I remember my game plan, and after about 10 miles, decided to let him go and stick to the "take the first loop of the bike a little easier, and try to pick it up on the second loop. So I let person after person go by me, staying in control. Trying to stay in my aero bars as much as possible to offset the stupid headwinds and cross winds.
The number one priority that I have on the bike is set my stomach up to have a successful run. So I was taking in small amounts of calories every 34 minutes (about 100 calories). hoping that this would allow my stomach to digest said calories and water through out the day on the bike. We won't know how this worked until about mile15-18 of the run.
Once we got through the 25ish miles into the wind we have a 1 mile climb called the "wall", I fly up it because this was the first turn out of the winds and we where pushed right up it. At the top you turn back into the wind for another mile or so and then we hit Veyo, the Pie Shop and a right hand turn Finally heading south (Huge Tailwind) and mile 50. One more climb right away, and then it is about 15 miles of descent with a 30-40 mph tailwind. Hell Yes!! I am seriously flying by people like they are standing still. I top out at 58 mph on the biggest down section. Love This so much!!!
I finally come back into St. George and make the right turn to start lap number two. I have not seen another biker in over 20 miles, I passed everyone on the down hill, and hadn't caught anyone in a while. Kinda weird riding 20 miles of an Ironman and not seeing anyone in front or behind you. Now I know what It feels like to be Chrissie Wellington or Andy Potts!
Then all of a sudden I start to catch lots of people and pass them fast, bam, bam, bam. At first I can't figure out why it took me 70 miles to catch these people. Then I figure out that these people are just finding their way to the 25 mile mark of the bike and are on their first loop. Ouch. So for the next 25 miles back into the wind I decide it is now time to pick it up and push it. I catch Melanie S. in this section and encourage her to keep pushing it. She doesn't look happy, just like most of the other people out here. She will be back later though!
Once again I approach the "wall" fly up it and a couple miles later start the big down hill section. Really pushing to go as hard as possible. I pee one more time and take in my last bit of nutrition so as
to have time to digest it before the run, or so I hope!
One more right turn and a little turn around section and back onto Diagonal st.
I see my buddy Bryan Dunn hitting the 7 mile mark off the run meaning that he is about 1hr ahead of me, and that he must be at the front of the race. Awesome!!!
Into T2 and hop off the bike and run to my gear bag, for the first time ever I have forgotten to leave my shoes attached to my pedals and am running in my bike shoes. Damn it. funny things is that I am passing everyone in transition, come to find out that everyone in the change tent had DNF'D except for me, and they where in no hurry to go anywhere. I had a pretty quick T2 and was off to my favorite part of the day (I hope)!!!!

The Run/Nap

As I take off on my own two feet finally on solid ground for the first time in almost 8hrs, my legs have come to play. Always a good sign.
Now I have my game plan to follow, and just hope it all works as planned. First 7 mile loop just let the legs do what they want, don't push to hard, and let the stomach settle as much as possible. With the amount of out and back loops that you have on this course you have a chance to see lots of friends on the course, and by mile 2 I turn around and see Bryan and Adam about 3/4 of a mile behind me, Bryan on his second loop and Adam and I on our first. Just behind them is Melanie. When I pass each of them I cheer for them and try to keep everyone motivated after such a crazy swim & bike.
Somewhere around mile 4ish Adam passes me and I encourage him to stay strong and go after it all the way to the finish line. Then first loop went by nicely and now it was time to focus on loop two and just keep my pace steady here and stay strong, paying even more attention to my stomach and kinda keep my fingers crossed. I still have good legs, but start to worry about my calories.I really have no choice and decide I have to get some calories in or I will never make the finish line, so at about mile 9 I take a gel. It goes down fine, but a little stomach rumbling starts. Damn it, Please don't, just take it stomach, please!!!  I pass the 13.1 mile at 1:44:00. Perfect, I haven't started to run hard yet and I am on pace for a sub 3:30, just stay focused and get through the loop and then you can start to push on the final loop. My plan was at 19miles to start really digging in and ramp up the pace with everything I had left. Well, at about 14 I start to get the bloating and bad stabbing pains in my gut. I slow to a walk at an aid station to let it settle and drink some h2o. No more than 10 steps and I am running again. Come on, keep it together stomach! less than a mile longer it finally hits full force.
Here we go again! A few minutes later Bryan passes by me on his last two miles to the finish line. I had been keeping tabs on him all day and knew at this point that he was at least top 5 overall, and at least top 2 in our age group 40-44. I tried to go with him, but my stomach cramped up and doubled me over. I yelled at him to push it all the way. Two minutes later i passed his coach Nick, he informed me that he was in first in the 40-44 age group and only had to run 1/2 mile to the finish. It was going to be his first Ironman win, on such an epic day. So happy for him.
Now back to me, what can i do to get better. Take in more, take in less, speed up slow down? Nothing seems to help. So I just go into full damage control and try to get one more mile at a time. Somewhere around mile 19-20 my friend Melanie finally catches me as I am now walking through aid stations in hopes of some magic pill. She taps me on the back and says 'lets go, lets finish this and puke together at the finish line". So I start running right behind her, keeping on her like a second pair of shorts, she's right, lets suck it up and get this done. We are running well at this point and we pass Mel's cheering section that encourages us to stay together and keep pushing, they yell at her to hammer the down hills, and we turn the corner and she gaps me. Damn it, you need to stay with her, push it!!! I catch back on and by the end of the hill I actually took the lead again. Now we are hammering back up hill and I am doing the pulling and feeling strong, my stomach keeps yelling but I don't listen. I am forced to slow at the next aid station and I decide it is now or never, go the the coke for the boost and just hope it works. Mel passes me again and i take off after her. She is my life line and if I can stay with her we are both going to be better off for it. Around the corner past about mile 21 and headed to 22. This is where all of a sudden things go black. The next thing I know I am laying on the side of the curb/side walk, and two EMS guys are talking to me, but I can't really answer them or even open my eyes to see them. I can hear everything they are saying and I am not happy about what I am hearing. They checked my bib number and called me into to someone, and then called for what they where calling the "Gator" I think that was one of those ATV things they use to take people from the course to the medic tent. If that happens i am out of the race. No EEFFing way I'm not getting that medal. So I force myself to sit up. Eyes still closed a volunteer comes over with potato chips and I tell her I just need her to walk up around the next corner to where my wife is standing and then I will be alright. I stumble and trip several times into her almost taking us both to the concrete, finally Mary can see me and comes running, as soon as I can make out that it is her I collapse right there onto the side walk. The lady ask's Mary If she should get help and she tells her no, she will keep and eye on me and that she has seen me like this many times, just normally it is at the finish line!
Well the next hour goes like this, me laying on my side eyes shout and kinda in and out of it. For the most part I could hear what was going on around me, but I couldn't see or say anything. The old man's yard that I am in front of comes out and starts checking all of my vitals, over and over and over and over. Next thing I know I have a pillow, then a blanket, then a drink, then a camping mat to lay on ( I never used it , I couldn't move onto it). Then he apparently goes in the house and brings out some cut up watermelon with salt on it for me to eat. After shivering for about 15 minutes with both blankets on me, I came around and was able to sit up. My math at this point was not its best, I heard someone tell another runner that they had 6 hours to finish, so I figured I had about 4-5 miles to go and if I could walk 20 minute miles I would just make the cut off. The only thing that keep me from throwing in the towel and calling it quits was the fact that I went through that swim and bike and no way in HELL that I was not getting that medal no matter what!!!
So considering that Mary was still technically a registered athlete with her wrist band still on, I told her that I needed her to walk some with me. After 1 hour I stood up and to my surprise felt so much better and even more surprising I was laying right in front of the 23mile marker. Yes, only 3.2 miles to get this done. Off we walked 1 1/2 miles out to the final turn around and Paul caught up with us at about mile 24 and walked with us for about half a mile. Finally he started jogging again, I thought he was finishing and then I realized he had one more loop to go. Finally I started feeling like maybe running again, but believe it or not I didn't want to leave Mary out there over a 1 1/2 away from the finish, but at almost this exact time she asks if i wanted to try and run. I said yes and off we trotted, I got to about mile 25 and the stomach doubled me over again with sharp pains. Ok, time to walk again. Just let me gather myself again and I am going to run this thing in no matter what. We make plans on where she will find me at the finish line and off I go. It;s not fast, but it is kinda running. On my final down hill there stands Melanie cheering, and I am wondering what the hell she must think, the last time she saw me was 90 minutes ago running with her and we had only like 4 miles to go???
Anyway, my stomach is killing me, but I'm not stopping again just a few turns and we are done. I hit the last little turn around and only have maybe 500 yards to the finish. People are cheering and I pass several people headed out for their third loop and I am so freaking happy not to be going with them. One right hand turn and I can see the finish line only 50 more yards, and Mike Reilly calls me in and I am an Ironman for the 10th time. The slowest, toughest, strangest ironman I have ever done, and I am just as happy as the first time I finished Kona. This was no joke. I feel very privileged to have been part of the hardest, most Epic Ironman in history, and to have came out the other side as a better person. What else could I have ever asked for.

This race with be talked about for the remainder of our days, when I talk to someone that raced Ironman St. George 2012, I will forever have a special kinship with them. Whether or not they made it to the finish line that day or not, they will understand what no one else ever will. That Cinco De Mayo 2012 will always hold a special spot in our memories!!!

Thank you to everyone that makes it possible for me to reach deep inside of myself and learn something new about myself and life each and every time I toe that Ironman start line.
Special shouts out to my little girl Megan for loving me no matter what happens, to my simply amazing wife Mary for inspiring me daily to be a better man, and for being my best friend and life's companion. Non of this would matter if you where not there to share it all with me. I love you girls!
Big thank you's go out to Mike at Focus Cyclery for keeping my bike on the road with great service and knowledge, A Gigantic shout out to Endurance Rehab, especially Nathan Snell and Matt Kraemer that take such great care of this old body and keeps me moving forward. I certainly couldn't do it without you. Lastly, but not leastly a huge thank, thank you, thank you goes out to my team and main sponsor TriScottsdale, you guys are awesome team mates!!!

Until next time, Be Safe out there!!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Oceanside 70.3

For the past 4 years Mary and I have set our season kick off for Oceanside, Cali.
I simply LOVE this race and location. I mean come on, no matter how your day goes you end up on the beach!
So on Friday morning at 6am we are on the I-10 heading west towards the Pacific Ocean, after fairly uneventful 6 hours we pull in to The Pier over looking the fabulous ocean that I love soooooo much. We run through the registration process (much faster this year), and after a quick pass through the expo we head to our awesome condo actually 50 yards from the beach and 75 yards from T1 and the swim start. This is our 3rd year staying here and it just doesn't get any better than this spot.
Now this year there where some changes to the run course and T2 was actually in a different locale from T1. Meaning that we needed to check in our run bags on friday the day before the race. No big deal a quick unpack and repack job and we are back at T2 to drop off our stuff. From here it is time to eat. A new little place opened up right in the little Oceanside Harbour out our back door. Nice little place and fairly reasonable for the area. Then it is back to the condo to get the remainder of our gear ready for race morning. An hour later we decide it is time to eat again, so off we go back to the Harbour for our traditional pizza restaurant that we have eaten our pre race meal & beer at every year. After polishing off our meal its back to rest a little and an early to bed for the early morning ahead.
We are up at 5:15, do our normal pre race routines and head to drop off our bikes and get ready to hit the water. Because it is a wave start I actually start 28 minutes before Mary, so at 7:02 (22 minutes after the pro men's start) the cannon sounds and we are off. I quickly fell into a very nice pace and felt stronger and more confident than I have ever before. I was flying by the earlier waves like they where just standing still, which just helped to build my confidence even more and make me push harder. Once we hit the open part of the ocean we start to see some good waves and current, but I just stayed strong picking people off left and right all the way back to the shore, i jump up and check my watch 31:34, that is my best swim at this event. Yes!!!
Now I have a super long run in transition to my bike, and it has started to rain and only in the 50's (which is chilly for us Arizonians) so I take extra time to put on socks, arm warmers, and to stick a plastic bag down the front off my race kit to block the wind and cold. This results in a shockingly slow T1. but I'm on the bike now, lets see what we can do in the rain on this course. Well not 2 minutes in I hear a horrible noise coming from my bike and get off to figure it out, after a couple minutes I realize someones helmet stick had come off and stuck to my front forks resulting in a loud rubbing on my front tire. Fixed and moving again.
I know the first 24ish miles of this course is very fast so I decide to go with it along the ocean and keep a nice high cadence. During this first hour we pass Tank crossings, sand, ride though a pitch dark tunnel and have several very tight turns a high speed, throw in the rain and this made for several people on the ground. I just wanted to stay upright and get into a groove, which I managed, then we basically make a couple turns and are in the midst of some real climbs. Nothing stupid, but fairly steep and around a mile or so long. This is caused many a biker to get off and walk their bike up the first of the big hills. I actually felt good, and stayed seated and pushed on up, the next 20 miles are basically up and down a few good climbs until we hit mile 45ish where we turn back towards the water and into the sand. Just about this time a guy that I passed on the side of the road with a flat about 10 miles back comes flying past me. At first I am like damn, he is strong, go get it son, but just as i said this I decided to try and go with him as long as possible (staying 4 bike lengths behind him) Instantly my speed went up two miles an hour and I just pushed it thinking he will drop me at any minute here, to my surprise I actually get stronger and stay right with him, with about 3-4 miles to go I go past him and thank him for pushing me, and I hammer all the way into T2. As a result of my Ironman St George training and all the major hills I have been riding I come off feeling really strong and knock off 7 minutes from last years ride. I'll take it.
Now as I enter T2 and try to get ready for the run I realize that my hands are so cold that I can't use my fingers, that makes it very interesting. Lucky for me a volunteer is standing right next to me and helps me get my running shoes on and off I go. This is what I live for baby!! Run time!!!
Now I know I'm a little behind on calories so right out of transition I take a gel and off we go. I start to settle into a few comfortable pace and I am flying by people. Mile one 6:25, perfect, right where I wanted to be. Now the best part of this run course is that it is a two loop out and back, so you get to see all of the pros and all of your friends that are racing at several points if you are in the first few waves, you get to see the pro race play out right in front of you. As I hit mile two here comes the lead male (Andy Potts) with less than a mile to go to the finish. A couple minutes back are #2 & 3, Ritchie Cunningham and Jesse Thomas side by side fighting it out. So awesome, wish I could have watched them sprint it in, but I had my own work to do. All the way out to the turn around I get to see all the pro men smashing themselves for points and $$$. This keeps me distracted for a couple of miles, then I make the turn and get to see everyone on their way out. I yell at a couple friends and high five a couple as well. I am feeling strong and an really clicking the miles off. At this point everything between 6:15 -6:25. At about mile 4 I pick up and run with for a few minutes the lead female pro (Mel Mcquaid), I try to get her to stay with me but she is on her 2nd loop and starting to hurt a bit, so I just pushed on without her. Then I pass the remainder of the pro women places 2-8 or so as the are about 2 miles from the finish for them. As I start my 2nd loop I am looking now for my beautiful wife to be coming the other way, and sure enough boom, Mary, so now my goal is to keep pushing the pace and to catch up with her and encourage her to keep up the great race that she has going. About a mile later I catch up to her, pat her on the ass and tell her to stay focused and not to give up until the finish line. I know at the pace she is running that she has to be hurting and it becomes a mental and physical battle at points to make yourself keep hurting yourself. As I cruise back out to the last turn around I get passed for the first time on the run the entire day, and he is in my age group!!! Oh no you don't, I'm not giving in that easily. I have no real idea where I am at in my age group, but I know I'm not letting this guy run away from me, but he is, I keep upping the pace but he is freaking strong, i tell myself you are just as strong, go get him, don't give up, run like Sally would, balls to the wall until you can't go anymore. I start to see him coming back to me, little by little, This is all i needed, even though he was about 30 seconds up on me, I knew deep in my heart that I would catch him. There goes mile 12, (6:04 mile) , mile 12.5 and he is just about 10 yards in front, I decide to close to him right here and just go by with all I can so he doesn't even have time to respond. Boom, I'm past him and in the last .2 to the finish, I push it with all I have, as hard as I can to the line, he is not catching me at the line, no way!!!! I cross the finish and no one passes me. i quickly turn around to see him finish, and nothing, no one, not another person in sight as far back as I can see. Come to find out this guy was still on his first loop when I was on my second!!!
Damn, I closed with a 5:41 pace for no reason???
I feel so great, I can't believe it. Sure I ready to be done, but my confidence is soaring. I ran so strong to close this race out, and felt like I could have gone for ever!!! I can't wait until Ironman Arizona in Nov. :))))
All that is left now is to get some warm cloths on, eat some chow, and wait at the line to cheer on and congratulate my wife when she finishes with a smoking day and takes 4th in her age group making the awards podium. I am soooooo super excited and proud of her. She dug deep and totally smashed herself. LOVE IT!!!
This was a great training day for our next race (Ironman ST George in 5 weeks), and a great confidence builder for us both, but especially Mary.
Thanks to Focus Cycles for taking care of all of our bike needs, and Endurance Rehab for getting us to the starting and finish lines, and to Triscottsdale for taking such good care of us, what a great group of people, so positive and lots of fun to hang with.
Until next time, Please be safe out there!!!!!!!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Boston baby, Part Deux!!!

Hell Yes!!! My badass wife laid it down. 26.2 miles of smashing it. She smashed herself, she smashed that course, and best of all she smashed her PR. can you say 3:32???
Mary's new (fast) marathon Pr. and we are going back to run Boston next April (2013)
I am sooooooo happy for her, and now she can breathe and start to focus on Ironman St George.
Can you believe it is 10 weeks away! Damn.
So next up we get to make our annual trip to Oceanside for the 70.3 and our little getaway to cali.
Until then, I will keep smashing myself to get tougher!!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ramblings and early season training

Since the last time I left you I have been a little busy with training, and trying to get myself back into proper shape. Amazingly the older I have gotten, the harder it is for me to recover after races and the harder it is to come back from time off. So my plan going forward is to make sure I don't have to take any more forced time off due to stupid injuries. i.e. broken clavicle, broken foot !!!
So as usual in January our local Rock N Roll Arizona marathon rolled around. Due to Mary and my 2012 race schedule for Ironman, etc... we decided that if we where to go back and run Boston in 2013 that this would be the race to qualify at. Well life threw us several curve balls and when race day rolled around I had only been running for a few weeks and in NO kind of shape to be running, let alone racing a marathon. The simple goal was for both of us to run just fast enough to hit our Boston Qualifying times. Well to make a long story short, Mary for her 2nd time at this race had to pull out half way through due to a knee injury. After walking with her and talking about it, I decided to go ahead and finish the race up. Good news is I qualified, bad news is I ran a slow (for me) 3:07 marathon, also bad was that Mary didn't qualify, thus leaving us with the issue of getting her healthy again and picking out a new 26.2 to get her BQ. I will update you on this topic next week :))))
Then because of said lack of training miles, as Feb approached and the Pemberton 50k, we had to make a painful decision to not race the 50k option that we had planned on doing since doing it last year.
We instead made a wiser choice of doing the relay option. I started the team off with a 1:44 loop and an overall pace of 6:49 per mile. I slapped Mary's hand and she took off and smashed her loop with a 8ish minute PR of 2:08!!!!
Team Knott-Beaver took second in the relay division. A solid training day for the bigger picture ahead.
In between the two races we took a little trip to St George to preview and do a training weekend on the Ironman course. After two days driving and three days of training we all knew what we needed to do to prep for race day. GET ON OUR BIKES and ride BIG HILLS!!!
Its going to be an epic race day come May. I'm getting excited just thinking about suffering for 140.6 miles again, and the french fries afterwards!
For now it is time to smash myself on the bike and hit MT. Lemmon and Sunflower as often as possible.
I hope to have some great news next week to share. Fingers Crossed.
until then, Be Safe out there!!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What? it's 2012 already???

I know it has been a LOOOOOng time between blog post. I must get better I know.
So a little 2011 review:
Swam- 539,700 meters
Biked- 7935 miles
Ran- 2013 miles
(Next Year will be better on the bike and the run)!!!
3 - 1/2 marathons
1- 50K Trail race (1st ultra, at night)
3- 1/2 Ironman (70.3)
2- Ironman (140.6)
(This to, will be much better next year) Smallest amount of racing in a decade!!!
Oceanside, Ca
Monterey, Ca
San Diego, Ca (Meg's first trip to Cali and the ocean)
Coeur D Alene, ID
Show Low, AZ
Flagstaff, AZ
Kona, HI
I saw my wife and myself run our first ultra distance trail races (50k), also cheered from home as Mary completed her first 50Mile trail race.
Then had the joy of watching my women set new PR's at 5k, 4mile, 1/2 marathon, 1/2 Ironman, & marathon distances!!! Freaking Amazing. So proud of Mary :))))
There where so many great times in 2011, but now I say bye-bye!! Last year is so..., last year.
On to 2012:
No resolutions, just a few cool things I hope to see happen:
Jan- qualify again for the Boston Marathon with Mary at Rock N Roll Arizona Marathon
Feb- Set a PR and win the masters division at the Pemberton 50K trail race.
March- Set a course PR at Oceanside 70.3
April- Train my ass off on hills
May- Win the "Knott family throw down" divison at Ironman St. George
May- Recover enough from IM StGeorge to be able to run Rim2rim2rim at The Grand Canyon
June - Keep Smashing myself in 115 degrees in prep for Ironman Arizona
July- same as June in addition to traveling to Tahoe to watch/pace Mary for the 50 miler
August- Set a course PR at the Mountain Man 1/2 Ironman in Flagstaff, AZ
Sept - Set a course PR at Deusec Wild 1/2 IM in Show low, AZ Oct- Finish the smashing of ones self for said IMAZ
Nov- Set a new Ironman PR at IMAZ (weather permitting) :)))) & get that Kona slot for 2013!!!
Dec- Celebrate the off season and our 3rd wedding anniversary (Not in Gilbert)!!!
That is it for now. See you on the race course!!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Big Hula in The Lava Fields

I sit here typing this race report just after Mary took off 18 minutes ago on her night time trail race, I conjure up the details from this time last week (shortly after 3 pm Hawaii time) and think how fleeting the pain of that day disappears. (Except for my foot), that is for later in the story.
I will skip over the details of getting to the Islands, luckily there wasn't anything to talk about. We had a seamless trip, non-stop flight into Kona from Phoenix arriving at 2pm, simply perfect! The few days leading up to race day where full of the usual. Watching everyone and their brother and sister swim/bike/run 24/7 up and down Alii Drive and Dig Me Beach. I tried to stay under the radar as much as possible. I had nothing to prove, and decided to save as much energy both mentally and physically as humanly possible. Mostly spent my time doing the "have to's"
Have to register, have to pick up my bike from Tribike Transport, have to check in my bike and T1 & T2 bags.
We swam from the pier twice, did a little bike, and ran just enough to not feel bloated and fat :)
One highlight was watching Mary make her debut on the SUP. After quite a fiasco the first morning with said SUP, she got really good at it. Going out everyday for at least and hour or so.
Race morning dawned at 3:30am. I woke up feeling rested and ready to race.
I had my pre race breakfast of oatmeal, bagel, water & EFS drink and we headed to the pier.
Through body marking smoothly (with a lucky #888), and then after the crew secured their spot
on the sea wall over looking the swim start, Mary and I hung out in the hall way of the King K
hotel, just relaxing and chillin before the craziness of the day would start. The pro field was called to the water at 6am for their 6:30 start, and that pretty much was my sign to start making my way
closer to the ocean. Mary and I said our I love you's and shared a few kisses and then she headed
back to her spot on the sea wall as I headed over to the transition area to collect my thoughts and get good and body glided for that salt water swim. The chaffing caused by salt water under your
speedsuit is instant and painful for the remainder of the day if you don't catch it before it starts.
At 6:20 I finally entered the Pacific Ocean with 1900 would be Ironmen and Ironwomen.
6:30 a.m., No count down just the cannon blast and we are off. Elbows and feet ass deep for
2.4 miles. I had decided that I would line up on the most inside line heading the straightest line
to the buoys. Well this was an interesting decision. I'm not sure it was better or worse than the other lines, but it was definitely frustrating. Once you pick the inside there is nowhere to hide. You are stuck there for good, no pulling off to the side to stop the pounding for even a second. So
about every 250 meters there is a pile up at the red buoys as everyone is forced around the outside by the paddle and SUP boarders. Frustrating, more elbows and feet and knees than before. Finally We make it to the turn around buoy and start out way back to the pier. By this time you have swallowed so much salt water that your tongue and mouth are swollen and your stomach is not so happy either. Now this year was a very choppy year in the water with some nice
strong currents on the way back in. With about 1000 meters to go I swear it was just like swimming in a spinning drum. No going forward,no going side ways, just staying in the same spot going nowhere. I just dug in deep here and gave my last bit of real effort to break loose and then before I knew it I was standing in the sand again. Hell yes, get me out of this water,
Swim Time 1:12, T1 3:00
Onto the pink steed, a.k.a. the Bike
Once through the long ass transition area of Kona and onto the bike I didn't feel like I had brought my legs out of my T1 bag. I was being passed like I was standing still one after another, but I tried to stick to my plan and not blow up in the first 30 minutes of the bike. I passed my crew around mile 8ish, I think? They where screaming and yelling their heads off (Loved it), so out to the turn around and then knowing I would pass them again I blew a big kiss as I went by again ( I knew they needed some energy from me as much as I needed it from them)
At this point we head up Palani Hill and out onto the Queen K. Hwy, My main focus for the section out to Hawi (the bike turnaround) was to stay on top of my hydration and nutrition, and to stay within myself, one thing a pro friend told me once was to go one gear easier here than you think you can go all day long. This paid off big time as we started our 19 mile climb up to Hawi I was starting to pass EVERYONE! It was crazy cross winds and I was loving it. This is what Kona is all about :)))) Loved it!!!
During this section is when I get to see all the pros heading back to town, and we get to see how the race is playing out. As usual Chris Lieto was the first bike to pass me going the other way, but
a big surprise, he only had a small lead on a pack of about 5. This race is going to be exciting!
Then after counting about 15 men I see the hammer known as Julie Dibens go flying by me! Are you kidding me? Holy crap, I check my watch and count for the next lady 8 minutes and it is Caroline Steffen, and then Leanda Cave and finally 12 minutes after Julie comes Chrissie. Damn, this is going to be very exciting, I can't wait to get back onto the run to watch it play out first hand. A few minutes and ladies later I see my good friend Linsey Corbin come by and I figure she is in the top ten which is awesome because she will bring back some girls on the run.
Finally I reach Hawi and the turn around and start the crazy descent for 19 miles at 30+ mph into a major cross wind. Love it!!!
Finally we get back to the Queen K and I know I have somewhere around 2ish hours of serious concentrating to get me back. This is the hardest section for me, this is where the winds become head winds and the fatigue and humidity starts to take a toll. Just keep it together and stay focused. I take water at every aid station (every 7 miles) and either drink it or pour it on me.
Somewhere in here my right knee starts to really hurt. Are you kidding me? I bike 100 plus mile bike rides every week of the year and no knee pain, what the hell is this? So I try to minimize then pain of pushing to hard with my right leg, I change positions, everything but no good, just get off this bike and onto the run ASAP! I end up losing about 10 minutes in this last two hours, but still within reach of my goal to be running before 7hrs. Into T2 and start running away from that bike so happy to be running, even if it is only into the change tent. Another very speed transition and we are off.
Bike 5:39, T2 3:00
Out onto the run and instantly my foot is in pain. No, this is what I dream of all day, time to smash the run, my foot just is asleep from the bike, it will go away just keep running. Well mile 1
I stop and take the shoe off, there has to be a nail in my shoe or maybe a beach ball. Nope, nothing in there. Well just keep moving, it will go away, just forget about it, block it out and get running.
So mile 1 1/2 I come up on my crew, they are screaming and cheering and jumping up and down,
some great energy from them, I give Mary a kiss and keep moving. Just 3 ish miles and I get to turn around and head back to them. That was a long section, I keep feeling my foot with each foot fall and tried to think about everything and anything else. I finally stopped for my first pee of the day? What, I have been drinking non-stop and it is now 7 1/2 hrs late and only one pee. Not good.
Also along this section I have a hell of a time keeping my race number belt up around my waist, I must have lost some major weight on the bike because it won't stay up. Finally I stop and a spectator takes it from me and tries to tighten it up. No go, well lets go old school and just pin the
damn thing. Finally I hit the turnaround and head back towards town. a few miles later I get a lift
from the drunken part of the crew screaming out from the bar as I ran by "Beaver" the Buckeye's are winning. This preoccupies me late for a few miles trying to figure out if they where telling me a lie to make me feel better or where they really winning?
So I finally turn off Alli Dr at about mile 9 and there is my crew again Mary high fives me and tells me Crowie set a new course record and that Chrissie is just around the corner in first with less than a mile to go. Now we made a semi deal that when we passed each other she would high five me, so I stopped and put my hand out, and instantly could read her face and eyes. She was out of it and totally focused on getting to that finish line first, I slapped her on the butt and keep on running. Wow, chills go up my arms and a tear in the eyes at seeing this amazing sight. It can't be put into words, you had to be there to see and feel the strength and internal fortitude that women
exudes. Simply AMAZING!!! Just two minutes later I pass Rinny she is hammering and I yell over to her as well. What a freaking race. They both break the old run course record on a day that
many a pro blew up on that hot run. As I head up Palani Mountain and make the turn onto the Queen K again, I pass Leanda Cave, she is in 3rd place and digging very deep. I send her some energy and keep on trucking. At this point the women's race has and is playing out just two feet away from me. So Stellar, I Loved it!!! Unfortunately my foot still is killing me and I just can't land on it or push off normally. This is a loooooooong section out to the Energy lab, never seems to end. Finally at about mile 15 I am forced to walk for a minute through an aid station and my teammate Erica "Hank" Mcclurg passes me. So happy for her, she is having a nice day. As much as I try to pick up the pace to run with her I can't get another gear. My mind says your strong go, my body and partially my foot says you don't have another gear. Come on, get to that Energy lab.
I pass Linsey around this point and give her some encouragement and her me. Later I found out that L.C. had some major issues for over her last 6 hours and it wasn't her day, but I assure you she will be ready to win IMAZ in November!!
Now I have Michelle Simmons come up and start running with me and we keep each other company for several miles. Finally up ahead it is The Natural Energy Lab, I make the left turn and enter. It is just a little out and back in there but seems to go on forever, I make the turn around and start back out, no special needs bags for me just keep on moving. On a side note, probably the funniest thing ever found in a Special needs run bag at an Ironman, Michelle's daughter pack her a shovel, you know the little sand shovels for the beach! So Michelle picked it up at mile 18.5 and carried it all the way to the finish line. Love it!!!
Anyway, finally we hit that last climb out of the energy lab past mile 19 and back out on the Queen K for our return trip to Kona. By this point my foot is on FIRE, and this is really the first time I start to question if I could keep running. I kinda ran/walk here for about a mile or so. Finally I remembered what Samantha Mcglone once said, "the fastest way to the finish line is to keep running" and I am ready to be done. So I start making deals with myself at this point. Just run to that aid station, and then once I get there then I pick another small goal, anything to keep me going. I even make a deal with myself that I only have to get to mile 25 miles and then it is just a 1.2 mile victory lap. When I hit mile marker 20 I can not carry my water bottle any further and I drop it right onto of mile 20. Ok only 5 miles to go and a 1.2 mile victory lap. I keep running and
promise myself no matter how much it hurts I am going to run that last hill before turning right onto Palani at mile 25. Finally there it is mile 25, now that down hill is a major quad buster at this point of an Ironman, especially when you are on a screwed up foot, but I just suck it up and finally make the last turn onto Alii Drive, I have nothing left, I wanted to pick it up the final 400 meters or so, and I could not. I see my crew and Mary and barely can manage a low five. There is the finish line and I just want to get there. I climb the last little incline ,raise my hands and after about 5 seconds give myself over to the medical staff.
Finish Time 11:00:50
I am finally handed over to Mary for about :30 seconds before I am then taken to see the medial
tent for an hour. That is another blog, for another day.
Stay tuned: