Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Train

Do you ever see a train and think "what if it went off the tracks"? Many times the best laid plan just gets off the track. A penny gets thrown on the tracks then the "3:10 to Yuma" becomes stalled out. The thing is when the engine is on, with the plan to go to Yuma by 3:10 the engine is still hot. 

My big race in May got cancelled about two weeks ago. No more long course race in the first half of this year. It saddens me because of the work I've put in; the long rides on Saturday's, the swim work, the running. 

As soon as I found out about the cancellation I started searching for a new race on the same weekend. It came down to three choices;

  1. Go totally nuts and sign up for the Florida 70.3 (ya right!)
  2. Drive eight hours and take two more days off work to do "the world's toughest half" up in NorCal
  3. Sign up for an Olympic Distance race
I remained the ever sane conductor, choosing the Orange County Triathlon. The good news is there was a race in the area that same weekend. At least they waited to cancel the race until this near date. I'm staying on the same training plan, getting the good base miles in for Ironman in November. I'll stick to the plan, peak for this race then rest over Memorial Day at home in Wisconsin. 

Though, the epic race was in Vegas, I'll miss that trip (my diabetes won't)!

Ben Wade: So, boys - where we headed?
Byron McElroy: Taking you to the 3:10 to Yuma day after tomorrow.
Tucker: Shouldn't have told him that.

Monday, April 23, 2012

ADA Tour de Cure 2012

This last weekend was the ADA's Tour de Cure in San Diego. I signed up to ride the century with two good friends Blair and Tammy. We rocked our IN kits and rode for "Mile 23", a foundation that came out of the tragic death of two kids with diabetes. 

Here is a map of the route. It was nice, warm and sunny in the Hidden Meadows area then cold, foggy and windy along the coast.

Jamie rode in the 30 miler training for her race in early May. She rode with a good friend of Insulindependence, Ryan Maloney (check out his Facebook fan page here). It was the first time he has ridden on real roads and not just a bike path, which is nerve racking no matter how old you are here is Southern California. It's sure not Rudolph Road in Eau Claire where my first Schwinn got its gears turned about the same age as Ryan. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Big Rock Olympic Distance Triathlon Race Report

First, I need to thank Cliff Scherb. With his nutrition plan I was able for the first time to actually be confident going into a race about my diabetes. While diabetes is never a "problem" in my life, I've experienced trouble in many races with high blood sugars because of my fear of bolusing too heavily for the morning meal. I won't go into detail about his plan but I can say it worked! As I told him on the phone today "you gave me the confidence to bolus what I needed to bolus in the morning". Thank you Cliff.

Secondly, thank you Jamie for putting up with my crazy training. I know I'll never be a world class athlete but you always let me train because you know what it does for me. Also to my parents, thank you for the love and support.

That's a lot of thank you's for "just a normal race" but while on the run I thought about what this year means to me doing Ironman for the first time so they needed to be said. 


Alright, on to the race;

Going into today I didn't fully know what to expect. Jamie, my always trusty sherpa wasn't at this race because she was coaching her water polo team up in Santa Barbara. (They won by the way and will be going to Nationals in Florida!) The weather on Friday was terrible, pouring rain and even thunder (very odd for Southern California). For awhile I thought the rain would ruin the event then I realized the issue would be the cold. 

When I woke up on race morning the temperature was a miserable 39 degrees at Lake Perris, site of the race. Despite worrying about the rain and temperature the night before I planned as if I was going to do the race, even if in the back of my mind I thought something would be cancelled. I found that I know the people in my life well because I asked three people their advice knowing what response I would get from each.

Dad; Do what is best, you will make the right choice.
Jamie; Don't hurt yourself, if it's pouring it's fine to skip it. 
Blair; Do it. Once you step on the start line you have to commit.

I went to bed with perfect blood sugars and a loud child at the hotel in the room above me jumping up and down for hours. I woke up, ate my carbs and injected a huge bolus that I never have done on a prior race day. Then... I couldn't find my wallet. Stress! I stayed calm but I still had a blood sugar surge. I gave a small amount of insulin that would lead to a minimal crash later but luckily I found the wallet (more stressful because I needed $10 to get into the park).

Off the race. 

Set up transition. Wait....

6:30am: Blood sugar, falling on Dexcom, check; 79. Carbo Pro around 30 grams.

7:10am: Blood sugar, 95, obviously going up.

Go down to beach start, so cold. Feet start to hurt it's so cold. It's just me, the wet suit and the bottle of carbo pro.

Delay, getting buoy's set up. 

7:40am: Down the carbo pro

7:45am: Gun goes off.

In the water. I panicked to start, people kicking, getting hit. I stop, get my bearings. Two lap swim. Heading to the first buoy is rough, really rough. Then I finally calm down and get it together. 

It doesn't seem to be going well. Sighting is hard rounding the first turn but I stop for a second time. Alright, figure out something to sight. The lifeguard tower, golden. 

I round the next set of buoy's for the second lap. Bam, into the group of sprint participants. Half of the group is panicking. Wow, I'm glad I'm not like this swimming anymore. Trying to get around them. 

The wake is choppy. Winds are blowing around here. It's hard to get through. 

Home stretch, end of the second loop. It seems like it has been forever. My time must be over my sub-30 goal. 

I get up, left hamstring cramp. It's fine, it's fine, two long strides. Look down, 26 minutes. Wow, under my goal, can't complain about a PR! My last Olympic distance triathlon was a 31:31. I made up five minutes on my swim. 

It's a long, long run up to the bike. Probably about 1/5-1/4 mile. Everyone's time is slow... I get 4:38. The wet suit was slow to come off the feet but I hop on the bike.

We are in the fun zone now. Flying. Holding the amount of power I want down on the hammer. Following what Cliff has instructed I take my first swig of Carbo Pro. "I feel good I think". 

I start to wonder what my blood sugar is. I take out my dexcom from my back pocket, almost ripping off my omnipod thinking it is my dexcom. 275! What that can't be!

Thank god I decide to check. The best decision I've EVER made in a race is checking this blood sugar. I get out my cheap meter from the other back pocket and check while cruising on the bike. This is on the first uphill so I can sit up. 127! WOOOHOOO Thank god I checked. No more dexcom readings for the race.

Haul up the hill. Back down, take my second swig of pre measured carbo pro along with a salt tab. 

Police officer let's a car through a controlled intersection! Hit the brakes, the gentleman next to me yells at the cop. We move on.

Then another cop let's two people walk across the street! I swerve to avoid. Almost hit a car making a turn. I yell! This rattle's me. I calm down and realize it's all okay and keep hauling. 

Back up that hill again on the second lap. Blood sugar; 190. Good to go. 

I swig my last sips of the bottle right before getting off the bike.

1:12:08... 20.7mph average.

I'm happy. Another PR. Again 5 minutes faster than my last Olympic and what I would say is a similar course. I felt like I faded a little in the second half of the bike. Next triathlon this won't happen. My power was slightly lower than I wanted but that's fine. 

1:07. 20 seconds slower than my last Olympic. Dusting the cobwebs off this season. Next time taking the Lance Armstrong approach and sitting down to hook the shoes on.

Drop the meter right after crossing the timing map! UGH! Go back, great guy flips it to me. Probably lost 20-30 seconds.

Ouch, ouch. Started a little fast. Let's dust off the bike legs a little.

The first mile and a half is hard; up and down on a swerving bike trail near the lake. Who ever designed this bike trail was obviously intoxicated. 

Looks flat the rest of the way. My feet are so cold they hurt! They warm up after two miles.

Four to go. Grab water, just sip. Take my blood sugar one last time. 189. Flat line. No more nutrition.

My legs hurt, my heart rate isn't as high as I'd like but left hamstring is tight. I come to terms with holding this pace. Since the Sunday prior my runs have hurt, even when they were easier for the short taper. Just keep pushing.

47:53, 7:42 pace. 

Not as fast as I'd like and not a PR, about 40 seconds slower than last year but everything can't go great. 

Overall: 2:32:43. 

My goal time was under 2:30 but I honestly can not complain! 

Swimming four times a week either with Master's or with Jamie has obviously paid dividends. That feels really good. Those hard Wednesday morning bike sessions and long weekend rides have obviously paid off as well. I feel good on the bike. 

My run could use work but heck, I know that is the training I'm most likely to neglect. I know that. I need to keep up the t-runs on the long weekend rides and be very disciplined about the tempo runs during the week. 

You know what really worked? My diabetes. About half way through the bike I thought, "o my god, this is what it feels like to be 'normal'". I spoke with Cliff for about 20 minutes after the race, I told him how I hadn't had a bad blood sugar for 48 hours prior to the race or during. His response was perfect; "it changes your whole body chemistry so all that work you put in pays off". Prior to this, any bad blood sugar from/before a race was just some stupid random freak out from worrying about going low that would lead to a high. 

It felt good, I feel good. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Noah's ark

For the first five months I lived in California I never once saw a drop of rain. I remember telling people back home "this is great; there's the ocean, it never rains, it's all good". 

But alas, when you only plan out four races for the entire year it will rain during one of them in a place Noah has never heard of. 

Sitting at the Holiday Inn Express in Morreno Valley I can't control the rain but I can't give thought to that now. I can only worry about things in my control. 

My blood sugar is currently fantastic, having eaten my last meal at 5:00pm in the car. My wetsuit, bike and running shoes are all ready to go for the morning. A syringe with 8.0 units of insulin is laying next the rice cakes, banana and apple juice I will have at 4:30am tomorrow. 

I have to remember that triathlon isn't running. You can't compare one race to the next, each race is difference. This race will be different and that's all part of the journey. 

Tomorrow my journey will take me outside in the cold after 8.0 units of insulin to a race that may not happen then back to the hotel to crush food at the diner across the street for another 8.0 units of insulin. I can't control the rain but I can control how I view it all. 

No regrets. 

Monday, April 2, 2012


Below is an email I received from a member of Tri Club San Diego this weekend regarding the Leadman 125. The race was held on Saturday (March 31) and is the same course that my modified half-ironman distance race will be held in May, the "Showdown at Sundown"

Congrats to Dean Sprague and Michael Bascon from TCSD for finishing this brutal race!  Winds of 30mph+ and gusts to 70 turned the lake into an ocean with waves (I tapped out here, at least they let me do the bike and run) ; also the hilly bike course made many tap out half way. As I approached the run many pros where slowed down to a walk up the 8.15 constant slope of a run course. If you are looking for something more challenging this is your race, they are even doubling it to the leadman 250 for next year!

Christian Chiappe, a good friend from Insulindependence did the race this weekend. When I text him to see how his race went, his only response was "windy... really windy". Even the pro's like Jordan Rapp struggled looking at their race reports. 

The good news is the race starts at 11:00am! Only in Las Vegas would they let you sleep in for a race. However, by the end of May it should be plenty hot in the middle of the desert. 

All this really means is that the challenge will prepare me even more for Ironman Arizona come November. It also means over the next six weeks I better start running more hills!