Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year, New Goals II

Ah, January 1st. A new year. A fresh start. When everyone gives up something or starts going to the gym. For me, time to lay down the goals.

If 2012 was about going long at Ironman, 2013 is about getting faster with more focus on power and technique. I'd like to lay a solid foundation to give Ironman another go in mid-2014. In October Jamie and I will be getting married, with that I have zero desire to do many six hour bike rides as I did in 2012. If not going long it leaves enough energy to focus on becoming more powerful. 

The A-race of the year will actually be the Gatorman swim in La Jolla. I'm not positive that can be called an A-race but it is the main event I want to do in the year. It's a 3 mile open water swim in La Jolla Cove. I've come so far in swimming and I think this event will help me prove that to myself even more.  

After that I'd like to do the Big Rock Triathlon in April again, the OC Duathlon in May, a half-marathon late in the year, a sprint triathlon and many short running events in between. 

A year ago I may have told you I'd get into bike racing by this time but after taking a step back from Ironman I realized... I really like triathlon. I love the variety, the training and the lifestyle it gives. Triathlon has given me a lot since baseball ended and frankly, I want to keep that up for a long time to come. 

Here's to 2013 and beyond.


2013 Season Goals


1 Complete the Gatorman Swim

2 PR in 5k, 10k & Half-Marathon

3 Improve Olympic distance triathlon speed














2013 Training Objectives


1 Improve overall swim technique.

2 Increase bike power, not long endurance

3 Complete "30 runs in 30 days" in October

4 Improve running technique and speed

5 Improve Flexibility  























                            

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Running down a holiday treat

After taking a break from running, I made my come back this week. First run might as well have been another marathon despite only being 20 minutes.... alright fine, that's dramatic. You get the picture. 

But why not just jump back into it right? Our friend Megan Miller from grad school invited Jamie and me to run in a 10k this weekend with her. While I thought my legs wouldn't like it, I heard there was a holiday treat post race...Hot Buttered Rum. 

Fun atmosphere and views that the tourists pay a lot to see. I love going down to the Mission Bay resort area, reminds me how we live in paradise. 

Forcing Jamie to pose with Mr. Reindeer and my victory chalice. 
Turns out we ran another half mile because the lead bicycle rode the wrong way off course. Sounds like the staff got into the rum before the race. Jamie used the race as prep for the Carlsbad Half-Marathon, she has done a lot of run training and I'm really proud of her dedication.

Megan with Jamie and I post race.  
 After a chat with Megan and a glass of sweet nectar, we were off to a Vessey family Christmas party. 

The Vessey girls with Mel (who will be in our wedding) and Grandpa at Christmas
 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Endurance sports

What has surprised me the most since Ironman is the number of times I have been asked; will you do another one?
You mean, another Ironman?
Yea, would you do another one.
Yes, I was not tortured in a prison, I did this out of my own free will.
You're crazy.

I suppose I am. 


Six days after Ironman I found myself holding a baseball I keep in the front seat of my truck. It's a California League ball that my college roommate Dan Kaczrowski gave me when he was playing in the minors in California. I held that ball tight, I haven't picked it up in some time. I keep it there to remind me of what is and what once was. In that moment I realized I'm only 25 and one day I'll probably end up doing endurance events longer than I played baseball. Unreal really.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Ironman Arizona Race Report

For anything prior to the start see the pre-race report.

Swim
I never thought the Ironman swim start would be a relief but it was. The second that cannon went off I finally forgot about the cold water, put my head down and went.

Let the hitting, kicking and shoving begin. Having been mentally prepared for the worse made the whole thing easier. Think of all the idiot's you drive near in traffic; veering, cutting you off, almost getting accidents. Now picture those people swimming next to you; hitting, kicking and shoving; 2,900 of them to be exact. Quick video of what it looked like below.


The swim is an out and back course in Tempe Town Lake, along the river's side wall. I could see Jamie running along the side for about the first 3/4 of a mile. At some points I would feel I had an opening and had gotten away from people only to soon be consumed by more swimmers. It was hard to get in a real rhythm, not that my lack of swim background ever gets in a great rhythm. 

Just before the turn I got kicked pretty good in the face, jamming the left side of my goggle into my face. I debated for the next couple of minutes if I would stop to clear the water that got in. Once I decided the answer was no I forgot about the sloshing water near my eye.


There seemed to be no true "sighting" on the way out with the rising desert sun in full view at the end of Tempe Town Lake. After the turn everything was much more clear. I could feel my right leg cramp slightly, I stopped kicking all together for a 100 yards or so to relieve the compression from the wetsuit on the legs. I took full assessment of how I was feeling at this time and realized that today was going to be a good day. 

I made the final turn on my way to swim exit and got to the set of stairs to exit the water. I had to wait what was probably a minute for two gentlemen in front of me to get up on the stairs and out of the water. When I first stood up my left leg cramped again, a few longer strides and it went away. At this point I could see the race clock; 1:18.

Thank you Jamie for working with me on the swimming this last year. Without you I'd still be in Tempe Town Lake struggling for air. Another thank you Ben Lablonc who convinced me when we graduated college that it would be a good idea to start learning to swim.

Transition 1: Swim to Bike
Ironman uses wetsuit strippers, why anyone would volunteer for this blows my mind but Jamie made a good point that morning; "Don't let them pull the top off your wetsuit, they'll rip the omnipod off (insulin pump)". At that moment I had that very thought. I pulled the wetsuit down far enough below my lower back then let the wetsuit strippers pull the wetsuit off my legs as I sat on the ground. 

I got back up and started running, back to not knowing how the transition bags would work. I had two gels in my hand that I kept in my wetsuit for a potential low blood sugar. I saw a friend from Sergio's workout and after passing thought how I should have thrown them to him. Next person I knew, Lyndsay Riffe, got the gels. 

I grabbed my transition bag. Saw people sitting on the ground and did the same. A race employee didn't like this, "you can't change out here!". "I'm not getting undressed", I yelled back. She yelled it again and I yelled back the same thing. It was a stressful moment. This is what they get for not explaining transition.

I dumped out my belongings, first throwing on my vest I had loaded with food and my heat sleeves. I started to take my blood sugar and my first thought was; "I get one shot at this, if my fingers are too wet I'm not doing this a second time". It worked, 134, it was a happy moment to see that number. I took the syringe out of the case and gave myself the injection.

Cycling shoes and helmet on. Wetsuit in bag. Start running to bike. I don't remember how I grabbed the bike or handed off the bag but some how all of that happened.

Time: 9:04

For the recond, if you don't have diabetes (or some other issue) and you're transitions are slower than this, get it together.

Bike
The Arizona bike course is three loops, it's an out-and-back course that goes uphill on the way out and back down on the way in. As soon as I got out on the course I started eating. Honey soaked gluten-free waffles! Delicious.

The first loop was pretty uneventful. The course at this point was packed with riders. All 3,000 participants in small lanes of traffic. I heeded a friends advice from Sergio's workouts and kept the pace easy for the first twenty miles, there's no reason to push anything during a long day. While triathlon is suppose to be draft free, there was no help but riding in packs at this point. Course marshals were giving penalties to everyone.

After an hour I decided it was time to check if my blood sugar was in line. Except...no meter. I checked my pockets multiple times. No dice. I either dropped it or left it in my transition bag (next day when I looked through my bags I found I had left it in the swim-to-bike bag). I would have to rely on the continuous glucose monitor (which for those of you not familiar with diabetes, it isn't always the most accurate thing during exercise). Six hours, no testing.

I dropped my vest and cotton gloves near the end of the first lap. Getting the vest off was not easy but I'm really glad I had it during the chilly morning hours. It was also at this time that my stomach started to rumble. 

That bathroom break I felt when my wetsuit went on (see post about prior to the race) was starting to show its face. It was decision time. Stop for a seated bathroom break (if you know what I mean) or fight through it. I weighed the options in my mind and realized I wouldn't be able to keep eating comfortably if I didn't stop. 

After passing the cheering fans I stopped on the second lap at the first aid station, where Jamie and I volunteered last year. The fastest bathroom pit stop ever, three minutes according to my bike computer and I was back on my bike. 

At the end of the race, I'd come to want those three minutes back but it was needed. At least this wasn't "race induced" bathroom break, just a natural break for the body.

I started to hammer again and was up and back down the turn around. The headwind coming back down this time was a little stronger. I caught Blair on the bike around this point. I'm pretty proud of pranking her. I could tell it was the Insulindependence jersey so I yelled out "Get out of the way" (she was riding perfectly on the side like we all should be, not in anyone's way). She started looking around like crazy, so funny at the time. "Brennan! I was going to say, I wasn't in the middle of the lane". She would later pass me on the run while looking like a gazelle, myself a wounded shot elephant. She had an awesome race and I hope to convince her to another one some time.


I felt great the whole bike. I tried to hold back not knowing what the run would bring. I grabbed water at each aid station, taking the right amount of salt tablets and eating a lot. 

My continuous glucose monitor read great blood sugars the entire time and I had to trust it was correct. I will say I was happy when the bike was over, 112 miles is a long way. 

Time: 5:39:45

Transition 2: Bike to Run
Off the bike, grab the run gear bag and put on the shoes. Funny that both Peter and Blair had the same stories after the race. The volunteers are almost...too nice. Hovering. Do you need anything? I can help! Should I take this? Should I take that? No, no, it's okay. 

I put on my shoes, visor and heat shirt and ran with my gallon zip lock bag full of run items. 

Time: 2:44

Run
I use that gallon bag to slow me down off the bike. I want to run slow to start and this helps. There's no reason to start sprinting off the bike when you have a marathon to run and you've just biked 112 miles. Yanking items out of the bag; watch on, new blood sugar tester in my pockets, new gels and a water bottle. Dropping the bag next to a cameraman and the run was on!

As soon as I had everything in my pockets I took my blood sugar while running. 141. No complaints there. My inner thighs were cramping a bit but it went away after the first two miles. I had downed a gel at the end of the bike so I waited to eat again. At this point I was consuming mainly Vega gels and coke at the aid stations.

The run was much more fan friendly than the bike course. It's essentially a figure-8 loop with everyone passing friends and family twice. Getting to see everyone and hearing people cheer your name really helps in those dark moments when things start to hurt and the mind asks how long a marathon truly is. Big thanks to Nate Heintzman for setting up the tent so my parents, Jamie, Jamie's Mom Ann, Felicia Gelsey, Tom Reiber and many others had a place to cheer us all on! Also big shout out to Blair's Dad, Dean, for all the awesome pictures.

The second time I saw the fan group on my way around I stopped and gave Jamie a kiss. I'm sure she was plenty embarrassed but it put a smile on my face.  


I felt great during the first ten miles, only ever slowing down to get water and coke down. Things started to unravel at that point, not terribly but it started. I took my blood sugar around this time and it was over 300. I don't know if the pod (insulin pump) was failing or I simply didn't have enough insulin going in me from my plan. I gave myself a very small dose via the insulin pump and after 30 minutes it hadn't come down so I used one of the syringes I had in my tri-shorts.

Somewhere between mile 14 and 15 I made myself throw up. I'm not sure what upset my stomach. It may have been partly the high blood sugar, my other guess is the orange I had around that time. Either way I felt better after things came back up. At this time I took three Tums. I didn't totally know how this would go over in my body but I felt great after (I owe this strategy to Greg Sexton, thank you Greg). Next long race I'll start taking the Tums right when the run starts. 

There's a lot of time to think out there. A lot of time to think about why you're doing this, what it means to you. I thought a lot about playing catch with Dad when I was a kid. How those games of catch lead to this moment. I thought about how happy I was for family to be at the race. It's those small thoughts that can get you through the race.

Starting the third loop felt good. The mind had temporary relief that it was near the end. I couldn't come up with many positive thoughts this last lap. Mile 18 on was like an atomic bomb going off in my body. What hurt the worse was my feet honestly, I don't know if I'd wear Newtons again, their "lugs" started to hurt pretty bad once running form broke down. The knees ached as well but nothing that would stop anyone. Truthfully, for being this far into my first Ironman I felt as good as I could have hoped.

I started running 3 minutes, walking 1. I figured I could do anything for three minutes. The walk pace was quicker than your mall walker but still not fast. I had broth at the aid stations this lap. Curiosity of Jeff Temple's Ironman Louisville blog post I knew when the stomach was failing this would help. 
Seeing the mile 25 sign was like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I could hear the cheers of the finish line. Coming around that corner was one of the greatest feelings I've ever had. I slowed down a little and tried to take it in. I heard Jamie yelling, ran pass and then came back to grab her for kiss. This was what all those early mornings and long rides were for, this moment. Below is video taken by Jamie.


I crossed the line and was then grabbed by a volunteer. Passed through the shoot and got to see my family. Seeing the smile on Jamie's face and then my parents made everything worth it. Blood sugar at finish 161.

Run: 4:52:00
Total time: 12:02:29

Aftermath
If I could go back I wouldn't change anything. For my first Ironman the stomach issues were relativity minor thanks to the knowledge imparted on me from friends during Sergio's workouts. I had great blood sugars until the second half of the run and I have Cliff Scherb to thank for that. I finished very happy.

Crossing that line was the accomplishment of a lifetime and I hope to do more. I've gained many new friends through training, new experiences and learned a lot about myself and the way I want to live my life.




















Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Prior to the cannon

 "You're living the dream bro! You're living the dream!"
-Volunteer on lap 2 of bike turn around

The quote above isn't made up, easily one of the highlights of the race. Two of my best friends, Skip and Marcus, always use the acronym; LTD for Living The Dream. Ironman definitely is living the dream. 


I'm lucky to be healthy enough to complete the race, lucky to have the family support system from Jamie to my Mom and Dad to Jamie's parents to my friends and co-workers; not to mention lucky enough to have the internal motivation to want to exercise. 

I know a lot of people don't have these things, I have plenty of reason to step back and realize that I am Living the Dream. Below is an example of this; a video made in Guatemala by my buddy Skip and his class.  





I want to thank everyone that sent me a text, gave me a call and sent video's to my phone or Jamie's prior to the start of the race. I can't believe the out pouring of support. I'm so grateful for everyone.

Leading up to the race
I could go on and on about the pre-race stress of filling the multiple transition bags, registering, going back to turn in those bags then turning in more special need bags on race morning. Long story short; those of you who know me know I'm high strung and easily excitable, getting everything ready for long transitions that I didn't particularly understand was probably the most stressful part of the weekend. It made the actual race starting feel like a relief. 


Two days prior to the race I was interviewed by World Triathlon Corporation (WTC). Triabetes, one of the clubs of Insulindependence, is an official club of USA-Triathlon, as such Peter, Blair and I were invited to their reception and I was asked to speak about "the metal pancreas" (their words, aka the insulin pump) I have on my body. Below is the interview.





Race Morning
Normally I fall asleep like a baby, even the night prior to a race, I start this weird breathing thing and I'm out. Not this night. I started thinking about the swim and the rest of the race as I lay in bed. I thought about everything leading up to the race. The training, my family that were there and how important it was to me. 


Then it was up early for the start, I awoke just prior to 4:00am. Blood sugar over night was perfect, flat line in the 80's, one of the rare times that Jamie and I probably slept with a similar blood glucose level. 


After the glucose reading was an insulin injection that I had set on the counter, I didn't even have to think about it. Near ten units of insulin by injection and 140 carbs of white rice and a banana. No taking a risk with the insulin pump not working, I wasn't going to let the "metal pancreas" fail now. I got dressed while I wait for the insulin to hit me then eat.

Jamie and I sat on the couch of the hotel as I ate the breakfast. Not much was said, the calm before the storm.

Murphy's law struck first when our secret parking lot was closed. Our fault. Jamie was driving so we turned around and made our way to normal parking lot. Road closed again. Fine, the race officials won this battle. I jumped out and Jamie went to find parking. Second mistake. No phone, no plan to meet up.

I went to transition and pumped my bike tires, put bottles on my bike and turned on the bike computer then went to drop off the special needs bags. Two quick bathroom breaks and a test of the blood sugar, 154.

I walked back through transition to see Sarah Reinertsen holding her prosthetic leg telling a volunteer how to hand it to her leaving the water. I definitely did a double take and we made eye contact, I'm sure she thought "what are you looking at". I'd probably feel bad about the situation had at least three people not given me the same look that day as I stuck a needle in my own leg.

As I left transition I walked back and forth looking for Jamie. As I was about to reach the point where I would just yell her name I saw Vic from Insulindependence, the Triabetes Club Manager. He let me borrow his phone to call her and we were able to meet up in what seemed like a panic. 


I'm glad I saw Vic as I spoke with him about what to do with my continuous glucose monitor and insulin pump. I went back to the transition bag area and threw the items in my bike-to-run bag.

Jamie and I then went to an open area (as if there are any with three thousand people and their closest family around) to start putting on my wet suit. As soon as my wetsuit wet on I could feel that I needed to go to the bathroom. Not the stand up and pee kind either. Too late, wet suit was on. My blood sugar was now 201, probably nerves on the rise. Half-unit of insulin in the thigh, a kiss for Jamie, hugged my parents and made my lonely way to the staging area. There was no going back now, this game was on.

When I got to the staging area I took my homemade gel of 25 grams, realized I would leave my favorite sandals to die next to this garbage can and waited. Everyone was starting to get in the water; goggles and cap on.

I made my way to the edge of the water, told the person behind me they better not jump on me and got in. Mistake. As soon as I got in the announcer started to describe the pro start, meaning I would be in the water over fifteen minutes before my start. This water was cold, very cold.

The pro men went, then the pro women then the national anthem. The cold water made all the nerves in my body go away. I wanted the race to start so bad so I could warm up. Mike Reilly (race announcer) gave his send off after the Mayor of Tempe or maybe it was Phoenix, I wasn't listening, it was too cold.

Then the cannon. BAM!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thursday getting to Ironman

"Come what may, all bad fortune is to be conquered by endurance."
-Virgil

Drove over to Tempe today, checking into Ironman tomorrow. Below is our quick video. 



Monday, November 12, 2012

Training and life through a phone

Last long ride on the 101, taken by Blair.
I read an article the other night how the creator of Polaroid, Edwin Land, in the 1970's spoke about how we would one day always have a camera at the ready. He was a true visionary of his time and the era he spoke about is here. (Click here for article.) Thanks to Jamie, Blair and my iPhone I have pictures of everything great from this year leading up to Ironman. 


Grave Digger, obviously I won, taken by Blair

The pictures are what I'll have to remember some day. Of course I'll recall the race but what about the six months leading up to it? I won't remember the fatigue but I'll have that picture racing Grave Digger during a training ride

With one week to go the taper has taken over. Peter was right, I've gone crazy. Taper is terrible. I liked the fatigue better.  

More than the training over the last six months there are also the good times. Ironman takes a lot of sacrifice but I'm glad I never missed any of Nik's football games. Nik will be in Jamie's and my wedding next October as one of the groomsman. He has dated Jamie's sister Brooke for the last four years and we've had plenty of good times. His last home game for San Diego State was on Saturday. 

After that it was off to Jamie's Water Polo match. Something finally clicked for me with water polo watching this weekend. Maybe it's because I finally realized it's just ice hockey in slow motion. Either way, now that I can "swim", I still don't understand how people don't drown. During the Ironman swim, when I get hit I promise not to cry like the other teams goalie. 

 
 










Thursday, November 8, 2012

How complex is diabetes?

This is definitely not that of medical opinion. Mainly because I don't know anything about medicine. Only what I observe through my own body. Just attempt to follow.

Recently I've been having these high blood sugars at night. I can see it on my continuous glucose monitor as I sleep. My blood sugar creeps up and up and up. I've also noticed it during the day but that's harder to measure because there is always food on board or insulin on board.

At first, this perplexed me. "My workouts are hard, my training hours are long, how could the insulin be going into my system not be keeping my blood sugars down". At first I blamed it on my insulin pump. Then I blamed eating too much at night. Even with these high blood sugars I was never tired during the day.

Once I figured out it wasn't the pump and it wasn't food at night (because nothing had really changed in my eating habits other than being hungry all the time from long training). I started to think about how I wasn't as tired as I thought I should have been for this happening. I started to think about a lot of the nutrition articles I've read. How the body becomes more efficient with carbohydrates, insulin, food. Is this what was happening? Was my body simply better able to handle the training and use the carbohydrates more efficiently thus my same training insulin doses were to....low?

It was the opposite effect of everything in my mind. Train hard, insulin sensitivity goes up, use less insulin. 

It was almost hard to accept because this is why I love the training so much; the diabetes is so forgiving. I realized I had broken through a wall where my body is more efficient. I'm sure it happened slowly but the wall felt sudden.

As Cliff Scherb told me in an email when I consulted him, "it's a positive development, most likely it means that you are recovering well and topping off your glycogen stores appropriately from one workout to the next".

I made the crude drawing to the right. Basically as your fitness level goes up so does your insulin sensitivity. The red line is the wall I feel I broke through. This is the point where my basal (background insulin) needed to be increased because I was recovering so well that the extra insulin was needed again (much like a person not exercising would need more insulin than a person exercising).

This is almost the advantage of having diabetes (ya right, like there is one). Most people would have no idea their body was all of the sudden more efficient with the food. I, on the other hand, could literally see/feel this happening. 

Wow, I bet none of this makes any sense. And I don't know if it's anywhere near correct from a medical standpoint.

Let me sum it up in layman's terms; last Sunday I went for a 100 mile bike ride. After I didn't feel that tired. I didn't even have to lower my insulin ratio's the way I have in the past. I'm physically ready to do this Ironman. The end.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

What has become clear....

What has become clear over the past week is that Ironman Arizona is right around the corner. It still felt as though it was light years away until last Friday (October 26). It hit me like a piano falling from a 100 story building. It's here, the race is right around the corner. 

This is the last week of hard workouts. The last Tuesday pain cave trainer ride, the last Wednesday long swim and the last hard Thursday Sergio run. After this weekends long run and long ride the hay is in the barn and it's taper time. 

What has become clear to me is that I've put in the work. Now it's about getting to the race and finishing what I started a year ago. 

A year ago I told my Dad I wanted to do this to learn something about myself. I've learned so much and I haven't even heard the cannon go off. I even have a  of list of these thoughts written out. After the race I plan to share a few of those ideas on here. Maybe no one will read it but at least I won't forget. I know I'll learn more during the race and I plan to share some of those dark moments as well.

I'm told the race doesn't start until mile 80 of the bike and mile 18 of the run. What has become clear is I'm ready for those moments.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena

Monday, October 29, 2012

One big workout

One long, big workout. I worked out longer yesterday than it took Peter Jacobs to win Kona this year.

The plan was to swim for an hour then ride for over the Ironman distance followed by a very short run. My right knee has been flaring up. Not terrible but enough to make me think about it. Luckily, my brain does know that half of this race is just getting to the start line healthy.

I swam 3,200 (1.8 miles) when the pool opened at 7:00am then went home to change and ride over 112 with Blair. Well, long story short; we rode 114 miles with more climbing than any Ironman course in the world. (116 miles for the day.)

It took a long time so I decided there would be no post run. The training benefit at that point just wasn't there. My Ironman time will be no faster whether that run happened or not but it could have been slower if I ended up hurt by putting more pressure on the knee than the climbing had already instilled. 

Last big week this week then two week taper. 

  A day in the life video below.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Week....something: Whatever it is, it's close

Not even sure what week of training this is. It doesn't matter, it's getting close. Close enough for the athlete guide to be sent to my inbox. Haven't read through it yet but will examine closely this weekend. I feel strong. Super Frog was the race I needed prior to Ironman. It gave me confidence that I'm doing the correct things in my training. Instead of writing more I threw together a video during the warm up and "warm down" of my bike interval sets on Tuesday morning. 


Also doing a little fundraising for Insulindependence as part of my Ironman journey. You can view my fundraising page here. I'd like to give a huge shout to Geoff Fuller for donating a very large sum to my campaign. You're the man Skip.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Super Frog Race Report

Race morning
First, I'd like to thank Jamie for all her support. She wakes up early, takes my bag, my diabetes stuff (Sherpa-betes), puts up with my training and is my swim coach. Thank you beautiful.

Second, thank you to Coach Sergio. While he doesn't make my training plan, he kicks my butt every Thursday and some Tuesday's. Without that kick in the butt I wouldn't have learned how to compartmentalize one mile to the next. I feel a lot stronger while running and I owe that to his workouts. Thanks Sergio. (And I big thank you to Blair for bringing me to his workouts.)

Third, thanks to my parents. Their support always means the world to me. I know Jamie was keeping them well informed the whole race. 

Thanks to everyone for their text messages and calls. Best text goes to my cousin Charlie though; "good luck with your [half-ironman] today! you're a crazy SOB if you ask me". Don't worry Charlie, I was thinking the same thing the whole race. 

Pre-Race
Early wake up call as always. Check myself over, feel good. Blood sugars....fabulous! Wonderful, not having to start a race morning dehydrated. O yes, and a check of the SDSU Football score from the night prior. No good, a loss to Fresno State. Injection with a needle to make sure I get the insulin, wait fifteen minutes for the insulin to hit then eat and off to the race. 

Transition set up was a little unusual at this race. Lance Armstrong was in it which means... a circus. 

Swim
A year ago I couldn't have done this swim. Well I would have lived but I would have swallowed so much salt water that going on would have been pointless. Thanks to my trusty swim coach on Team Cassidy, my swim has improved a great deal. The picture below is from the Slowtwitch website during the race, Jamie said this is exactly what it looked when my wave went out. 

Surf during the swim. 

Lap 1 heading to lap 2.

In true honor of the Navy Seals it was a rough swim. Never once however did I think "I want this to be over". I feel like I've truly made it in triathlon swimming. The swim, even a hard one like this didn't bother me. It was the first time I looked around and thought "get out of my way, I can go faster than you". 

Getting out and back in this surf twice was rough. However, it never really bothered me. I felt like I liked the challenge. I keep going on about this because it's such a change in my reality. Almost unbelievable. 

They say an Ironman swim is like a washing machine. If that's true then this was a blending machine. Maybe not as many people but don't over estimate the power of the ocean. 

Total time: 38:25 

Out of the swim. Up to transition one. 

Transition time: 2:14

Bike
Onto the bike. First blood sugar, 160. Perfect! Eat a Fruition bar. Holding pace excellent, right between 80-85%. Take my next blood sugar, error. Take it again... over 400. What? Then my CGM buzzed, double arrows up. Yup, that's right, it's high. 


Throwing my empty bottle to Jamie,
which ended up in an argument between
her and the guy next to her for it.

Long story short, I spent the next ninety minutes of my bike trying to get my blood sugar down. The entire time scared that I would cramp from the high blood sugars. 

What happened? I diverted from my diabetes plan last minute with a low, I could have stacked too much food together until it collided. My diabetes plan called for an injection of over three units right before the swim with eighty grams carb. Having just drank coke before the swim to get my blood sugar up, I decided to only have about 60 grams of my mix and not give an injection. Should have followed the plan looking back. 

Either way. I got my blood sugar down. (With an injection on the bike I might add, "don't try that at home" as they say on TV.) And I kept a smile on my face the whole time. I kept a very positive attitude through the swim and bike. The $12 I spent on The Triathlete's Guide to Mental Training was definitely the best $12 I've spent in a long time. Just putting a smile on your face when things hurt can change everything. 

Throwing away the Fruition bars I went to my own Brown Rice Syrup/Honey mix. I loved this bike course, flat and fast. The way it should be. You can't ever just put your head down on an open road and let it fly.

O yeah, and then there was Lance Armstrong in a speedo. He beat me by just a tiny bit. 

Bike time: 2:38:32

Off the bike to transition two. Off the bike, running shoes on. 

Transition 2: 1:27

Run
Start of the run
Having done a transition run after every weekend bike ride over the last six months I knew I had to start slow. Just loosen the legs. I had all of the things I wanted to take on my run in a freezer bag. Running with a bag filled with items from sun sleeves to watch to a gel flask, one can't just start sprinting. It slowed me down and let my legs loosen. 

I took that first blood sugar about a mile in while running, 160. Alright it's down but would I crash? I decided in that moment I would not test until after the race. If I ended up feeling hungry I was going low. Just do everything as planned and don't get scared. If I over analyzed the diabetes I would forget about putting one foot in front of the other to finish. 

The first two miles of the run were on soft sand. The kind of sand that you sit on during a honeymoon. I haven't ran on a beach since...I think when I visited Northwood University in Florida when I was a senior in high school. The beach might be a mile from my apartment but I sure as heck don't run on it. On the run it was easy to see the athletes that knew how to run on the beach and the people that do not. I was definitely one that didn't. 

After the first two miles it was up to an area that we would make two laps around. Water/gel every two miles and singing to myself to keep running. I also held a gel flask in my left hand and a Fruition bar in my right. I held it like a blanket to keep my mind off running. 

After the laps it was back to the sand. A little longer this time though. First south then back north, the soft pack going south slowed me to what seemed like a walking pace. Once the course hit the actually beach it was back north but this time closer to the water line where the sand was slightly harder. 

I was able to stay positive until about mile eleven. That's when my break down happened. I kept going but that 18 minutes seemed to take forever. 

Run time: 2:01:48 

Total: 05:22:26

Closing thoughts
I'm pretty happy with the race. I have no complaints. I ran the entire run and held my bike power exactly.

And, best of all. I had ZERO stomach issues. Real foods are the answer, not some weird syrup mix that a marketing company tells us all to drink. If I had to go back and do anything again it would be to stick to my diabetes management plan. Not change things up at the eleventh hour. But live and learn. I never cramped from the high blood sugar and raced a hard race. 

I PR'ed by nearly 40 minutes and have only faster half-ironman's on the horizon. Speaking of time, I didn't wear a watch. This was part of my "mental game" for the race. Once I was out of swim I couldn't go back and make up that time so why look down at a watch that tells you what you have already lost? Time is the only thing in this world you can never get back. On the run I didn't want to do anything stupid to "out pace" myself and blow up. It all worked. I compartmentalized the race exactly how I wanted to and know I need to in the future. 

Next race, Ironman Arizona. 47 days. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pre-Race: Superfrog


Super Frog tomorrow. Half-Ironman. (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run) The last race in preparation for Ironman Arizona. 

I took it very easy this week. Not much different from the taper week during Ironman in November. It's amazing what a few less workouts will do for energy levels.

Packet pick up day. The day before the race, the calm before the storm so to speak. 

Wore my lucky hat today. Picture on the left. Yup, that's Grandpa and little Brennan. Not to mention it is Grandpa's birthday today, that can't hurt the luck either.

Ordered a few Team Cassidy stickers for the seat post of my bike. I'll let Jamie tell you what the numbers mean if she chooses. 
The swim tomorrow is two laps in open ocean, with a beach run to get to the second lap. A year ago I would have freaked out about such a swim. Luckily now I'm able to focus on it as just another swim.  

This race has a lot of history attached to it. It's just about as old as the Hawaiian Ironman and has always been attached to the Navy Seals (hence the two lap swim with a beach run and a lot of beach running during the half-marathon). Competitor Radio recently had a podcast with the Race Director. The ten minute podcast can be found here

Should be a warm one for San Diego tomorrow. Looking forward to it. 

PS: I'm gonna whoop Lance. When I beat him tomorrow Jamie owes me Sushi.