Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Jamie in Madison

After meeting with family a lovely lady at the gas station doesn't think Jamie fits the Wisconsin mold. Video taken in Madison where the IMWI finish line is located.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas

I'm not sure if I got more from the run or dancing with Teddy at the end. Merry Christmas, holiday training. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pre Christmas Swim

First day of winter. 

Master's swimming outdoors this morning on the first day of winter. Everyone that has ever visited me from home has said "you mean to tell me that ALL the pools are outside". Actually I definitely said that myself when I moved here. Jamie will probably laugh at this post but when you're from a place that can get down to negative thirty degrees and everything still functions an outdoor pool in the middle of December is pretty remarkable. Reminds me why I am willing to "pay the sunshine tax" to live here. 54 degree's outside during the swim. Ride in the morning (outdoors again) then to the cold for Christmas. A little less training over the next week while at home but still going to get in some good treadmill runs and indoor YMCA swims with Jamie. 

Solana Beach Boys and Girls Club in the morning post swim

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ride this morning, swim/run tomorrow

Great ride this morning with the Revolution Bike Shop group. Started an off season training plan this week, a lot of cycling (4-5 rides a week) and slow zone 1/2 base training. Turned out to be an absolute great week of training. However, blood sugars all over the place at the start of the ride this morning. Insulin use last week to this week is already down a lot. Looks like I need to drop those basal rates, which is a good thing. Blood sugars are also back to being more forgiving with the training. 

Waiting for a few other riders at a juncture in the ride. 
I'll drag Jamie to the pool in the morning to help me with my swim stroke, then a quick lift session and run tomorrow night. Maybe a quick video post or something fun like that as well!

"The pain of discipline is far less than the pain of regret."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Vegas Half-Marathon

Sleep? Who needs sleep? Not us. Not to run a half-marathon. Alright fine, we slept a little, BUT not much. After some fun in Las Vegas my two college buddies and I ran the Las Vegas Half-Marathon, at night! Skip and Marcus, who I played baseball with in college (and lived with) both flew into San Diego the days before the race then made the epic journey through the desert to the glimmer of Vegas.

Under the beacon of lights in Las Vegas we ran, or should I say I jogged and Skip and Marcus ran. They both cranked out a 1:39 (even after waiting for me to use the restroom) and I had a split slower than my last half-ironman. My body upset from the lack of sleep and the lack of running the last month. 

I envy both of their running ability, both definitely know how to shut off and just run. No over analyzing, no thinking about anything besides the beauty of the run. Skip never runs with a watch in a race, Marcus gets pumped up like a prize fighter before each run. 

Over the weekend we discussed a lot about endurance sports and what it means to us, how it has given us that thing we need post "team sports". Skip hopes to run a 50-miler in the near future, I only hope to be there as a pacer for him the last ten miles when he does. Marcus is definitely going to shatter 1:30 in a half in the coming year.

After a fun weekend it's time to start that base building for Ironman. A lot of slow long rides to come!

"There's just no quiet in Vegas."
Barry Manilow

Marcus and me

Skip and me

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving Thankful

Note: Written on November 27

On a plane back from Minneapolis looking down on snow capped mountains somewhere over the rockies I can think of many things to give thanks for as we leave Thanksgiving week. I have a wonderful support crew from Jamie, to my parents to my great friends. 

Jamie has been at just about every race I have ever ran from that first duathlon to my last half-ironman. My parents are always so supportive that I can't wait to call them after a race to tell them how I did. To top it off I have great friends like Blair and Tom in San Diego that have come to races. I couldn't be more thankful. 

As I go into this Ironman I think of the things I am thankful for and the things I will need to do to complete Ironman. Eating well and doing all the training is even more important than before. Building a sound foundation for the bike, good swim technique and getting faster on my feet is becoming clearer and clearer the more my thoughts lean toward that far off race.

This will all mean a lot of long hours on the bike, working on my swim more than I want and actually doing speed work for my run. This all comes with visualization, believing how well the race can go. "You're only as fast as you think you are" as prominent triathlon and cycling coach Joe Friel writes. No negative thoughts, only positive ones.

Coach Hartman taught me a valuable lesson this weekend, "you have to put yourself in the pain zone long before you experience it in the race". For Ironman this is as much mental as it physical. His son Steven (an excellent speed skater) told me about the crazy off season squat workouts he has been doing, sets as high as 30-some reps. "The first ten are always fine, then my legs start to shake, after that my back hurts then you want to fall to pieces" he told me. 

But Steven got through it. Surely his skating times this winter will reflect the price paid. Put a dime in, get a dollar out. Thank you for the lesson Steven. Before any real training begins that is exactly what I needed to hear.

Next Thanksgiving I hope to have even more to be thankful for with many lessons learned and my wonderful support system mentioned above to thank for joining in the journey. 

"I think I learned to appreciate and treasure each day because you don't know how many you're going to be given."
-US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

Monday, November 21, 2011

Let the Journey Begin

Wait how far is it? You want to do what? You have to volunteer to even get a spot in a race a year away? 

Yup, I've heard it all in the last month when I told people I was going to drive to Phoenix, volunteer on Sunday then get up early to wait in line to sign up for an Ironman that is a year away. After having anxiety about getting a spot, I was able to sign up with the golden ticket, a bright green volunteer t-shirt. (The other spots sold out in less than ten minutes online.) 

Despite being nuts and wanting to do an Ironman (2.4mile swim, 112mile bike, 26.2mile run) I still had to volunteer to get "priority" sign up because it sells out so fast online. 

Jamie and I volunteered at Bike Aid Station #1 early Sunday morning after cruising over to Tempe, AZ on Saturday. (Jamie was kind enough to go over to Arizona for the weekend with me.) Volunteering turned out to be an excellent time, seeing the pro's whizz by and having a few laughs with other people starting their Ironman journey. Having gained Willy Wonka's Golden Ticket (the bright green shirt) we woke up early to stand in line before the sun rose and signed up. 

As we entered the registration tent Jamie almost broke and signed up with me. She didn't end up pulling the trigger, wanting to get a few more races under her own belt. We will get her though, St. George May 2013. 

Peter and Blair (co-workers at Insulindependence, Peter the founder) also came over to Arizona to volunteer at a different aid station. Over the last few months Peter and I have been asking Blair to race with us, she finally broke and signed up. All three of us Type 1 Diabetics will have a great experience on the journey together, not to mention the other people at Insulindependence that signed up including current captain Jeff Temple and club manager Gary Schmidt. 

Time to build that bike and swim base. Let the journey begin!

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Defining Sherpa-Betes.... Lessons from Climbing the Summit.

"A member of a traditionally Buddhist people of Tibetan descent living on the southern side of the Himalaya Mountains in Nepal and Sikkim. In modern times Sherpas have achieved world renown as expert guides on Himalayan mountaineering expeditions."
-The Dictionary

Soma Triathlon Video

We need to learn to set our course by the stars, not by the light of every passing ship.
Omar N. Bradley

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Soma Triathlon Race Report

I'd like to start this race report by stating that I am one lucky individual. I have the best supporters on the planet. First, I really hit the parent lottery when I was born. My parents have been more than supportive of all my athletic goals through out the years and have always understood how it helps my diabetes. From baseball when I was twelve to doing triathlons as an adult. Second, my fiance Jamie is far more supportive than I could ever ask for.

This last weekend my Dad was able to fly into San Diego to drive with me to Tempe for the upcoming triathlon. It was more than awesome to have one of my best friends in the world come to town to do the long drive with me through the desert where we were able to see my Grandpa (Dad's father) before this triathlon. Not only that but Jamie, who had a wedding on Saturday night, flew to Phoenix on Saturday evening to be there for my race. Now both my parents have seen me race and Jamie has hardly missed any. Believe me, I know how lucky I am.  I am truly blessed.

Setting up race nutrition.
I was worried about this race in the weeks leading up to it. I knew I didn't rest enough after my last triathlon then racing the Denver half-marathon was a too much.  Honestly, in the back of my mind though none of that mattered as long as I could get another long course triathlon under my belt, having more experience with diabetes management during such a long race. Ultimately giving me the tools for Ironman Arizona next year.

Just as with the Orangeman Triathlon I created a full nutrition plan, including my diabetes management. This time I had more about hydration and sodium intake, the two areas I failed at last race. Everything leading up to the race seemed to the work well and I wouldn't change any of it, all easily digestible carbs and healthy proteins.

During the race I again planned to use a small dose of Levemir as my basal rate then bosul with the insulin pump. For any questions regarding diabetes I now have a "betes 101" here.  

Race Morning
After setting up transition.
Woke up with a high blood. 303 to be exact. Ugh. Double ugh. I couldn't believe when I took my blood sugar. I felt good, going to the bathroom was even good (normally I can just tell in the morning with this), I was shocked. My Dexcom sensor stopped working the night prior and I hadn't brought another. I could go into the long list of reasons why I think it was 303 (after going to bed with a perfect 103 blood sugar) but either way, it was high and I had to fix it. I waited to eat before seeing it go down, 45 minutes later. Mistake, waiting to eat would cost me later.

Either way I had my morning meal (45 minutes late) and we were off to the race. Set up transition, Ensure drink 30 minutes before the swim then off to swim start.

The swim took place in Tempe Town Lake, the same place as Ironman Arizona. It was a warm 73 degrees, luckily the wetsuit never got overly warm, the water was nice. This was very different from the ocean swim triathlons along the coast in San Diego. Instead of a beach start, this was a floating start, we would be in the water when the gun went off.

Just before getting in the water my blood sugar was on par, going down still and seemingly level. We got in the water, swam to the first buoy ... bam, gun went off before we even got to the buoy. We were off.

Right away I got dunked. I freaked out.  Looking back, I knew I should have stopped. I just didn't feel good and I wanted to fight it.  Right then I started to worry about the day. My arms felt heavy, it felt like I wasn't going anywhere (which I wasn't). I kept going, getting bumped a few times, swallowing more water than any of my ocean swims. It felt like I was back at swimming 101.

I didn't "get my stuff together" until 3/4 of the swim was over when I finally started to count my strokes. This got me to calm down because it didn't allow my mind to think about anything else other than the counting. With only 1/4 of the swim to go I got it together.

Time: 46:52
Over six minutes slower than my last half one month ago.  Disappointing.  In a lake none the less.

Transition 1
Wet suit off....struggle... wet suit off finally.  Chug 10oz of water.  Go

Time: 2:39

Bike Course
After about ten minutes on the bike I was able to check my blood sugar. 158. Awesome. About fifteen minutes into the bikes my sea legs were gone and I was off.

It was a mainly flat course with one major hill and a ton of turn arounds.  Four total turn arounds, meaning twelve in all during the three laps. Two of them without time to really get up to speed. Overall it was a good course, a nice course in which all of the riders could see a lot of Tempe with the mountains in the background, downtown Phoenix off in the distance and the ASU football and baseball stadium right there.

More than anything else I wanted to have a good bike split. In the end I hit my goal of keeping my average above 19, averaging 19.4 mph.

I took my blood sugar around six times on the bike, more than normal but for some reason I kept thinking to check it. Each time it was between 105-150.  Excellent.... kind of. Because it kept going up then back down I kept fueling.  I had too much "insulin on board".  I drank all my formula (Accelorade, a protein-carb mix) then had to start with what the aid stations had, basically powerade.  Mixing these would lead to my gut issues. The triathlon gods would teach me a lesson on the run.

Time: 2:53:08

Transition 2
Off the bike, on the run.  Not super quick but quick enough.

Time: 1:27

You know that feeling when you're really full after thanksgiving or when you went to the buffet and had too much food? That's what the start of my run felt like. My gut issues were bad as soon as I got off the bike.  My stomach was so heavy and upset I couldn't take on anything else. While I never once cramped during this race, I knew I would become dehydrated if I couldn't keep taking on water and electrolytes.

I needed my gut to feel better.

That was it. Decision time.

To throw up or not to throw up?  I did it.

I stuck my finger down my throat and made myself do it. My stomach was slightly better after this. While my stomach still hurt, no where near as bad as it did before. This was 1.5 miles in, after some serious run/walk. Checked the blood sugar, 89.

O no, needed fuel. I knew I couldn't possibly take a gel, it would come up. In my tri top I had a gel flask filled with maltodextrin and coke. It was only to be used for emergency. This was it.  I took half, probably 50 grams. Yuck.

The heat was starting to become a factor, wearing white heat sleeves was the best decision I made all day. This kept me cool while putting ice in my hat at each aid station.

I felt terrible though. I was in the darkest place I had ever been in a race. It lasted the whole run. Normally the dark place comes and goes, it never went away. As I couldn't take on much fluid I just kept getting deeper in dehydration. My heart rate started to become higher and higher, even at a slow pace.

Then came the turn around. I hugged Jamie and she ran with me for about 3/4 of a mile. It was what I needed. Seeing her and my Dad throughout the race kept me out of the dark place I had been in since the swim but I needed it now more than ever. She ran with me and reminded me that my body was just tired from the last month but it was almost over, I only needed to go six more miles in little over an hour to make my six hour goal.  Just "pump your arms and keep going" she reminded me. It was exactly what I needed.

Finish Line
I kept my heart rate where I knew I could and as my blood sugar kept sinking I took the rest of the gel flask, ate oranges at each aid station and tried to pace off people in front of me.

It was also getting hotter, I was going to a darker place. I had to dig deep. Hydrate whatever I could and get in carbs to keep my blood sugar up. I was even becoming dizzy, I started to worry.

With about a half mile to go I realized I would make my goal time.

Run Time: 2:11:39

Total Time: 5:55:46

Dad and I post race

 Post Race 
It was awesome to have both my Dad and Jamie at the race. While it was a super painful race, I hit my goal so I can't complain. After doing a little bit too much over a short period of time it's time for a rest.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Four days until the next race

Four days until the last race of the season, the Soma Triathlon, another half-iron distance race.  This one is particular exciting because my Dad will be flying into town then we will drive over to Tempe, AZ for the race.  Jamie surprised me earlier this week by saying she will be coming to the race.  I thought she wasn't going to be able to come because of a friends wedding she is attending on Saturday.  She bought a one-way ticket which is really awesome.  I'm really happy she will be there with me along with my Dad.

I did my race nutrition plan tonight.  I left what worked (nutrition) and fixed what didn't (hydration/electrolytes) during the Orangeman Triathlon.  I was able to get some advice from Vic Kinnunen, another Type-1 diabetic that just finished the Kona Ironman.  Vic supplied me with just the advice I needed.

I've been a little sore lately but will hopefully be well rested before the race.  I've felt I've maintained good fitness over the last three weeks but a nice light taper this week will be nice.  After the race I will take some time off then work on building my swim and cycling base while taking some time off from running.

"What you do today can improve all your tomorrows."

Ralph Marston

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Jamie's First Olympic Distance Race

I've said this to a few people more as a joke but actually this is true.  I realized Jamie and I together are basically are Mr. Berg or Mr. Mirr.  What does that mean you ask?  Growing up they were the crazy people, Mr. Berg rode a $4,000 bike 100 miles on the weekend and Mr. Mirr was a marathon runner, running Boston a few times.  "He rides 100 miles on the weekends" people would whisper.  It's easy to forget that other people find riding a bike a long distance on the weekend very odd when one surrounds themselves with like minded people.

What brought on my thoughts about Mr. Berg and Mr. Mirr?  This weekend I couldn't have been prouder of my fiancĂ© Jamie as she crossed the finish line to her first Olympic distance triathlon.  As she stated in her blog (click here) after my half-ironman, we are a team.  I couldn't ask for a more supportive partner.  Not only does she put up with my crabbiness during a high blood sugar but she also let's me drag her out for three and four hour rides on Saturday mornings.  She is Bonnie as I am Clyde.  

The first time I dragged her out for a ride apparently Blair and I (yes Blair, you're totally getting blamed here too) didn't tell her much about riding. Jamie rode the whole ride, which was over 30 miles, without shifting once.  When our friend Alex, who just happens to be a professional cyclist, found out he couldn't believe it.  It shows the will of Jamie, still hanging in there with us on her first ride without one complaint while I didn't even totally explain everything.  Now every time she goes out for the Saturday ride I can tell her cycling endurance increases.  

In her first Olympic Distance Triathlon this weekend, Jamie dominated the swim, out of the water with the elites.  Then she then did wonderful on a tough bike and run course.  For having only started cycling a few months ago she really crushed it.  While at the finish I heard a few of the elites complaining of the tough course, being such a tough first race I've even more proud of her.  

While most people probably think we are nuts just like Mr Berg or Mr Mirr, I wouldn't have it any other way.  Be ready, I might make you run a 10k before our wedding. (Okay okay Jamie, I won't take it that far.  But seriously, just in case you get the invite you better start training.)  Congrats on the race this weekend Jamie, I couldn't be prouder.  

"The world belongs to the energetic."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Denver Half Marathon Race Recap

Snow, snow… but I live in Southern California now!  Okay, okay so it didn't snow on race day but it snowed in Denver the day before the race so I got a little worried.  Luckily race day held up just fine, a little chilly but still fine.  

I was in Denver for the Insulindependence Regional Event.  People with diabetes from across the Rocky Mountain region all got together to volunteer at the aid station on mile 20 of the marathon course, to attend a few events throughout the weekend and to enjoy the race.  While at the event I decided to race in the half-marathon, only two weeks after doing the Half-Ironman and two weeks prior to another one.  

Over the weekend my blood sugars were running a little high, mainly from what I learned was a bad infusion site in the days before the race.  Not even following my own preaching I wasn't using long acting insulin and suffering from a bad pump site with high blood sugars.  Finally taking the site out on Saturday afternoon I was able to stabilize the sugars, use long acting insulin and get my blood sugars to a good point for the race. 

Race morning I bloused a little high which I would later pay for with lows during race.  Running the half-marathon I ate over seven GU Gels, equaling about 175 grams of carb total.  It must have done something right though because I felt good during the race.  Despite the altitude, I was able to hold the exact pace I wanted to (goal race pace 8:10, pace ended averaging 8:09).  

The first half of the race was rough, getting some of the kinks out from the Half-Ironman still but the second half felt great.  I ended with a time of 1:46:42, proving I'm in much better running shape than I was during the January Carlsbad Half.  Only being about a minute slower despite the race being hilly, at altitude, being sore from the half-ironman and slightly dehydrated from the high blood sugars.

"Blaze with the fire that is never extinguished."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Video and Denver Half

A little work trip coming up this weekend.  Insulindependence's Denver Marathon weekend, I'm going to challenge myself a little by running the half.  Training has been sluggish this week; the ride yesterday was good, swimming has been a challenge and no running. Rain tonight so I'm on the bike trainer tomorrow morning, add a few intervals.  I haven't ran (since Sunday) because I am going to run the half-marathon this weekend and have wanted slightly more recovery this week coming out of the big race.

Blair gave me the film from the "GoPro" camera from the Orangeman Triathlon; I edited it and below are the results.  

A few changes to the blog, hope everyone likes the "cleaner" look.  I stole the look from Blair's sister Alison.  Thanks Alison.  

"Fatigue is a disease and I don't want it." 
John Marino

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Recovery Week

The good news is I wasn't nearly as sore as I thought I would be.  The even better news is that the "runner's high" lasted nearly three full days, unreal.  My insulin sensitivity was through the roof during this time.  Typically, even after a night where I have a hard run I have near a normal bolus the next morning but not this time.  Low insulin usage and exceptional blood sugars the days after the race have been appreciable.  

I took Monday-Wednesday off then rode the bike trainer for 30 minutes on Thursday as a slow recovery ride to get some of the heaviness in the legs to go away.  Swim Friday then 22 mile ride on Saturday.  It was challenging to get moving on Saturday but once I did it was all fine.  

I will start to get back into it as much as possible this next week but am traveling for work.  My goal is to simply keep the fitness I have for the Soma Half-Distance race the third week in October.  After that race I'll take a little more of a break before trying to build into long course.  

I'd like to say good luck to Vic Kinnunen, a fellow Type-1 who will be racing at the Kona Ironman Championships this next Saturday.  I wish him all the best.  

Also, I added two new sections on the left side of my blog; about me and race results.   

"What lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Orangeman Triathlon Race Report

First, I want to thank Jamie for her unending support of my racing and being my number one fan.  Secondly, I want to thank Tom and Blair for getting out of bed early and coming to support me.  It's awesome to have the support of people that care about you.  (Also, thank you guys and gals for the awesome pictures and video below.)  

Finally, here is the race report.  It's a little long but this is how I will remember it when I have long forgotten.  

Days before race:
Putting together my race nutrition days before the race
I was smart enough to break down every meal from Friday night on, including how much insulin to give myself.  I then had a break down of how many carbohydrates I would eat per hour during the race.  This included pre-race, per hour on the bike and per hour on the run.  From here I had a regiment of overnight basal rates, race basal (which was Levemir [levemir is a long acting insulin that lasts for nearly 12 hours] over night and during the race, no sense in letting the pump ruin my race) and a good idea of what my bolus rates should be during the race (this was however an estimate having never done a race of this length prior).   Looking back, I will say I was spot on with the nutrition.  The days before worked, the race day worked.  The only real issue was a slightly low bolus before the race.  

No matter what though, I feel like it's really hard to bolus dead on in a race.  The Medtronic pump isn't the best for reaching into the pocket, setting a bolus (I have it preset in 0.5 unit increments) and then eating.  This however, is more of an excuse; the more I race, the more I learn and the easier it gets.   Looking back a year ago, I am far and away better at racing with the diabetes, from the 5k all the way up to this Half-Ironman.  Thanks Mom and Dad for my type-A genes.  As long as it's planned, there is at least a good idea of what should happen.  

Up early, 4:10am.  Three hours prior to the race.  Bolus with an injection (once again, no need for the pump to ruin my morning) and eat ten minutes later.  (I woke up at 181, my mistake, I was low prior to bed and had too many carbs, I knew it was too many but lows prior to bed are scary.)  Ninety-minutes later after setting up transition I was 182, dead on for my plan.  

Jamie and I laughing before the race.
This is when some of the planning goes a little haywire.  Although I knew a spike in blood sugars might happen, it was (and still is) difficult mentally to bolus for it.  Once again, the more I race, the more comfortable I will become bolusing for "nerves".   Twenty minutes after my 182, I was 206.  That spike doesn't just happen, nerves happen.  I gave myself some insulin, then my Levemir balas injection.  

Right before the race I had my planned Ensure shake.  350 calories, 49 grams carb and plenty of vitamins to keep my going.  A small bolus.  Right before the swim however the adrenaline was still going strong.  It's been a long time since I was this nervous before an event.  Probably back to my baseball days actually.  My blood sugar ended up at before the swim start 286.  Tom was next to me (also has diabetes) when I took that blood sugar.  I told him I thought it would come down in the swim, his confidence back reaffirmed my thought.  To depths of the sea I went.

Third group, 7:06 start, it was a little late but what race isn't.  Beach start, run in.  Waves were small luckily.  The course was a little odd, a lot more turns than usual, in the shape of an L.  Out, right turn, straight, right turn, right turn, long back, left turn, in.  

Besides the entire group going eastward (toward land) on the last major straight away I would say the swim went very well.  Especially for an ocean swim.  If this was a lake swim my time would be even lower, everything considered I am very (very very) happy.  Near the end of the swim I thought to myself, "I still feel really good, I am totally ready for this race".  

Swim Exit.
The groups become bunched around the buoys but this happens in nearly every open water swim, although it seemed to happen a little more this time.  My total time for the swim was 40 minutes, making the time in the water (on my watch around 38 minutes).  I'm really happy with that.  I have improved vastly since I started this journey.  Considering I couldn't even really "swim" when I graduated college and now I can do a 1.2 mile swim in the ocean, comfortably and relaxed at that, it makes me happy.   If not for Jamie I'd still probably be in the shallow end with floaties on.  My swimming from this point on will only improve.

Rating: A

Transition 1
A looooong run up a cliff (another downfall of an ocean swim).  I tried to go slow to keep the heart rate from spiking (as did most people).  

For taking the wetsuit off, this is the best transition I have ever.  I have zero complaints, it went well.  Looking back, I would put my cycling shoes on near the bike instead of having them rubber banded to the bike.  There was a large hill leaving the transition (750 feet incline), right before mounting I decided to put my shoes on instead of trying to do it quickly on the bike.  In a six hour race, no need to rush everything.   Four and a half minutes in transition.  Very good considering the run up the hill.  This is also where I know my swimming has improved, I never really had that "disorientation" in transition.

Rating: A-

O yes, not a full A because for the second triathlon in a row I didn't look to see where the "bike out" was located and started running the wrong way.  Oppppssss.  Dear parents near me on the other side of the fence, sorry for the choice words trying to find it.  

Not the best course, no passing zone for the first few miles.  That's no fun behind a slow person.  I thought the guy behind me was going to have an anxiety attack from not being able to pass the woman in front of me.  In a weird way I was happy though, it forced me to warm up.  The bad part is I couldn't check my blood sugar for some time (don't even ask, I'm not checking in transition, a nondiabetic doesn't have to do that so I'm not going to).  When I did, about six miles in, 206.  One click of the pump, 0.5, down to 181 in no time.  I was able to keep it in the 180's until the turn around 28 miles in.  

Here's where the difficult parts come in.  (Stay with me the following charts are in two pieces because I screwed up my Garmin watch mounted on my bike.)  

This is the first 13 miles.  
As you can see from the chart, after going up that initial hill we then began a long climb to the turn around.  The course was a beautiful out and back.  Besides a complete nutrition plan I will say the smartest thing I did was drive the course the day before.  (I definitely learned that I always need to do this in long course triathlon.)  I knew it would be a long climb to the top.  Miles 18-28 (below) being the worst of it.  It was beautiful but just like all hills, it's a long way to the top.  

The last 40 something miles, after getting the watch restarted.
The climb was long but I made it.  The thing I am good at (considering my 189 pounds, not a lot in the "real world" but a lot in cycling terms), is climbing.  It hurts but I don't mind it (kind of sick isn't it).  Means your arrive.

The thing that doesn't make me feel alive?  Coming back down.  I passed a lot of people going up but got passed on my way down.  I topped out at 42 miles-an-hour.  You know, I do a lot of things to make my life better by using triathlon; I eat better, I go to bed on time, very disciplined.  However, one thing I have a really hard time doing is going faster down a hill.  I've never even had a bad experience but something bugs me.  The longer I ride hopefully the better I get (once again Blair is right, I could gain a lot of time here).  

The cramping started about five miles from the top.  Not terrible but it was there.  I started popping electrolyte pills at a much higher rate then I had planned.  I wanted to drink more but didn't really "decide" to do until going downhill.  Well, you can't really do that.  Grabbing a bottle at 35mph doesn't really work.  We passed the last aid station, I didn't grab water, planning to grab my last bottle and... disaster.  Reached back and my bottle dropped.  No more water.  

Near the end of the ride.
Begin learning curve!  Next race I need to drink far far more water on the bike.  Looking back, in my swim and bike combined I drank 30oz of water.  That's four hours and only 30oz, I drink more than that at work in four hours.  Plus I have a very high sweat rate.  I should have been taking water in like it's my job but I didn't.  I need to learn to start drinking the second I get on the bike.  When I first began in triathlon I couldn't drink when I first got on the bike because I would swallow so much water during the swim but those days are long gone, it's time to learn to drink more water.  

Another thing that would make the bike much easier is aero bars.  I've ridden in aero a lot but had no aero bars for this race.  I thought being a tough bike course with many switchbacks I wouldn't need them.  Wrong.  Some times after the swim you just need a place to relax.  Not to mention, it would be much easier to take my blood sugar while on aero bars.  Before my next race I will get some aero bars.  With a road bike there is no way to take my hands off safely in a race.  

Overall I am still very happy with my bike split.  Besides the lack of water, which would make the wheels come off the wagon later, it was good.  

Bike: A-  (I was thinking B or B+ but this is my first half distance race, can I really complain with such a tough course?  As I've heard, can't complain after a PR [personal record].)

Transition 2
Off the bike, shoes on. No complaints.  

Transition 2: A-

I started to feel the inner right quad cramp right away but then .75 miles in, hamstring lock.  Awful.  I mean I couldn't even bend the left leg.  I was able to limp into the aid station one mile in.  Drank who knows how much water, stretched and tried to run again.  It hurt, a lot.  It was back and forth like this the first three miles until the turn around, all up hill.  

The thoughts at this point aren't fun.  "Why did I screw up my race like this, how could I be so stupid."  But then, there becomes this weird acceptance.  Almost like "okay fine, this is a life lesson".   A grieving process.   At this point I knew I wouldn't hit my six hour goal.  Considering the course, can I really complain?  

Run course elevation from my Garmin watch.

Near the end of the first loop.
The first three miles or so were completely uphill.  Just an awful time for me.  Cramps, drink water, run, cramp, drink water, run.  Going back toward the start line (two loop course) wasn't as bad.  This is the first time I have truly experienced the "it never always gets worse".  Meaning, it goes from good to bad back to good in endurance sports.  It would hurt so bad then I would think I could run the rest then hurt and cramp again.  

Seeing Jamie and my friends at the turn around really gave me a good lift.  I needed to see them, it helped a lot.  It hurt but I knew I could finish.  At this point I swore this wouldn't happen again.  That this too, was a learning experience.  

I knew my nutrition was solid.  How did I know?  My thoughts were positive.  One thing I've really experienced and learned through research is that negative thoughts many times in a race are tied to nutrition.  (This happens with my diabetes as well, negative thoughts in the brain typically mean a high blood sugar.)  Plus although I was cramping my energy level felt good.  It's like putting a bouncy ball in a small area, it can't bounce very far.  

Coming to the end of the run.
The run was tough but I knew a lot of other people struggled too.  Making my struggles not seem as bad.  Guys with Ironman tattoos that look like they are in great shape walking.  Jamie and Tom at the turn around heard one athlete say, "who ever made this course is a masochist".  

The course was also long, I'm not complaining but it was.  Near 14 miles on my watch.  Jamie brought it before I had ever even said something, other athlete's weren't so happy. O well, instead of doing a 70.3, it looks like I've done a "70.3 PLUS" as Tom put it.

Run: O lord, D+

Overall, it was a rough course and it is only my fault that I cramped.  One thing I can say, I put myself in a position to be under six hours with an ocean swim and a hard hill climb.   Plus I need to remember my run training has severally lacked, with the groin injury and some IT band issues.  I should be happy with simply being in that position for my first one.  It makes me even more excited about the Soma Triathlon with my Dad as numero uno spectator.  A lake swim and a much flatter ride/run.

At the finish.
The night before the race I had written on my hand, "Relax Big Guy" and "33".  The Relax quote is for my Dad, who would always tell me that before going to bat in baseball.  Indeed, it may be the most calming thing I can think to tell myself.  I can hear him say it in my head, calming me in those tough dark moments.  The 33 is for something Coach Hartman once told me when I asked him why he was riding the stairmaster for 33 minutes instead of just 30; "because anyone can ride for 30".   I knew the 33 would remind me that the body always has more to give, always.

I need to remember the only person I am really racing is myself.  I'll never be a pro, never be in the four hour range, I do this for fun, do this to better myself and my diabetes.  There is no reason to stress over the small things.  Triathlon has taught me that, I can tell you baseball never taught me that.  As I stated before "it never always gets worse", it's a reflection of life.  

Overall: B-
From left to right: Jamie, Myself, Tom, Blair, Christian

Overall:      6:30:38.3

Swim:         40:02.9 (2:04 per 100 pace)
T1:              4:26.4
Bike:           3:20:52.5 (16.72 mph pace)
                    04:05:20 total time before run
T2:              1:30.5
Run:            2:23:45 (10:57/mile pace)

What I learned
  • In long course triathlons no need to rush putting on the cycling shoes.  
  • During the bike portion only bring two water bottles to save weight, grabbing a new bottle at each aid station drinking as much as possible. 
  • Include in nutrition plan; electrolytes.  
  • Aero bars, enough said.  

"Do the thing and have the power"
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Don't let anything limit you....

All of the participants in the Orangeman Triathlon received an email about a week ago asking for a "human interest story" about their participation.  Below is what I submitted.

"With self-disclipline most anything is possible."
-Theodore Roosevelt


I read a lot of literature on nutrition; cyclist bonking, marathoners running out of energy, all of these stories about total depletion of glycogen after total failure of an athlete’s nutrition plan.  Each time I think, “I wish it were just that simple”.  

That’s because I have Type 1 Diabetes.  An autoimmune disease in which the body destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that creates insulin.  Unlike most athletes who only have to think about their fuel, I have to think about the balance that fuel brings to my blood glucose level. 

Normally dealing with diabetes is a lot of simple math; carbohydrates (not sugar like everyone thinks), insulin, and ratios of the two.  Throw in an ocean swim, a hard run or a big brick workout and everything turns from a simple addition problem to a calc equation.   If endurance sports are a series of yes and no questions, then endurance sports with diabetes is a series of jeopardy. 

I’m one of the lucky ones though.  I’ve always been strong, never letting it slow me down.  In my mind a challenge that others will never even know about.   That’s why I run for Insulindependence; a nonprofit that believes using exercise as a way to help manage ones diabetes.  I want to show all the kids and adults out there with diabetes that have ever been told they can’t do something that they can do anything.