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Oceanside 70.3 2016 – Race Report

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There I am running with Shangrila Rendon on my 2nd loop at the Ironman 70.3 California race.  For those of you who don’t know who she is… she is a Guinness World Record holder for the fastest female to race a Quintuple race (5 Ironman Distance triathlons in 5 consecutive days).  It was a pretty defining moment for me to see her out there and her cheering me on as I raced by just struggling to keep my body going.

Leading up to the race I was feeling confident that I was going to have a breakout race and finally be able to actually run the entire half marathon.  My running has improved, I’m leaner, and over all I’m feeling great about my nutrition since moving to being more metabolically efficient.  Then around Tuesday night my stomach felt a little iffy and I spent most of the night sitting on the toilet.   That’s right I either caught something or ate something bad.  I wasn’t holding anything in, and I felt fine otherwise.  Fast forward to Friday morning I still wasn’t 100% but I told myself and C that I plan to race.  If I have issue’s Friday night or Saturday morning, or anything during the race. I’m going to not race or I’m going to stop.  Her condition was only if I go to the medical tent after I finish… Deal.   The problem isn’t so much being sick, it’s the amount of fluids you lose during the process of sitting on the throne and the lack of nutrients in your body.    It was simply the smart thing to do, and that’s live to race another day.  I had consulted with 2 doctors who have my best interest at heart so I knew that I wasn’t making a blind choice.  I told myself that I was ok with the outcome… If I DNS or DNF it wasn’t cause I wasn’t capable or didn’t have the drive.

Race Morning:
I got about 8 hours of sleep that night, thanks to some essential oils from some friends and some Imodium.  I was weary to eat anything for obvious reasons so I skipped my breakfast of eggs, bacon, sweet potatoes, with butter.  I preloaded with some pedialyte as we made our way to transition, and physically I was feeling fine.  I got into transition late so I had to do the fastest transition setup known to mankind before they closed it.  I’ve really simplified my transitions to where it takes me about 5 minutes to get everything in place and out I can go.  I was in the second to the last wave, so I still had a whole hour before I started.  I spent some time chatting with some Team Challenge friends and team mates before they had to march off into the Oceanside Harbor to start.  I chugged my 2 scoops of UCAN 30 minutes before the swim start, threw on my wetsuit and it was time for me to march down that same plank into the harbor.  The best part is that even with the pro’s already out of the water and you still being in that 2nd to the last wave, there is still a great amount of energy to keep you pumped.  So I was able to feed off it all and stay collected.

Swim: 36 mins
BOOM the horn goes off and out I go.  The water temp was 62 degree’s race morning and I LOVED it.  There was plenty of swell to go around and plenty of people who kept stopping in front of me.  I had no problems sighting the buoy’s but swimming around/over people got tiring.  My stomach though at the time was starting to wobble and I was wondering if I was going to have an accident in my wetsuit (that would not be good).  I was able to finally find some calm water out of the pack of people and cruise to the swim exit.  I felt at this point that I had a better swim that I did, but my stomach and my calves and core were cramping a bit.  As I was jogging back to T1 I saw C and she gave me some more pedialyte.  I told her that I’m was done, my legs just aren’t there, and my stomach was feeling woozy.  I remember her telling me that maybe I just need to sit down in transition and see how it goes.  I had plenty of time, but nope I told her I was done and she was going to meet me at the exit.   WELL, I did what she said and as I was sitting there gathering myself and looking at my bike, I decided I should give it a shot.  I’m feeling a bit better, and if I can make it off the bike I can walk the half marathon.  It wasn’t going to be pretty but I could do it as long as I kept it easy.  So I put my big boy pants on and helmet and went out the bike exit on the bike.

Bike: 03:55:19
I remembered this course from my first go around with it in 2014 and knew I had to keep it calm and easy the first half.  I did exactly that and felt great, I took a third of a bonk breaker bar down at the 30 minute mark and 10-15 minutes later I felt my stomach kind of curl again and I thought, oh no… this isn’t going to be good.  However I kept riding and it went away.  I always grab water at the bike aid stations and the volunteers at aid station 1 are always a blast.  This year it was some sumo wrestlers handing out water and Gatorade which made me laugh as a I whizzed by.  I chugged my third of a bottle with UCAN and MCT Oil and I was feeling pretty back to normal keeping my watts and HR in my fat burning zone, saving my carbs for those hills.  Then around mile 25 I notice my rear wheel bumpy and I think I just have a flat.  I pulled over and sure enough, not only did I have a flat.  Something shredded about 3 inches of my tire!  I don’t carry a spare tire for a 70.3, GREAT.  Thankfully it was by a volunteer captain who was able to radio for the bike people to come out.  About a hour or so later I was on the road again complete with a new tire and tube.  As I sat there waiting and watching people whiz by, several people offered me a tire and tube.  I didn’t take it, just because they might need it.  I’m not trying to qualify for worlds and I knew I had plenty of time.  Yeah there was a part of me that felt that maybe this is a sign and I just need to stop, but I kept moving on.  Into the next aid station it was bathroom time or so I thought anyways, and then again I thought that maybe this is it and I had to stop.  Maybe it was just my body telling me that it wants to stop.  I stood at my bike questioning if I wanted to battle the hills today.  I told a volunteer who wanted to give me Gatorade that I was done, I didn’t need any.  So I sat on my bike for about 5 minutes waiting to see what my stomach would do, and sure enough it calmed down.  I was good to go, and off I went.  I could see the hill in the distance, the same hill that I almost had to walk up a couple years earlier.  The same hill that intimidated me so much to where I didn’t ever want to do the race again.  The same hill that is claiming these cyclists and forcing them to walk.  I was able to power up and not be totally dead afterwards.  Mentally this was a huge boost and exactly what I needed.  I cheered everyone else on around me to not give up and to just keep at it.   I’m sure some of them might have despised me for zipping by them as they where walking and I was cheering for them.  I was sincere since I was in their shoes before at one point.  I know how difficult it can be, and I know that when I was in their shoes, it helped.  Finally piled up the last climb and made the final right towards the coast into the headwind and just held on for the rest of the ride.  I tried to keep things steady as she goes, and I knew my run was going to be horrible.  Finally as I rode into transition there was a small sigh of relief that I was almost done.

Run: 2:42:xx
I took my time in transition again to collect myself and wondered if I should even bother running out.  I didn’t know what time of day it was or if I’d have enough time to walk a half marathon after the bike wait.  I didn’t want to be walking and then be told I didn’t have enough time.  After a few minutes of drinking more pedialyte and gathering myself I set out on the run course.  It was great to see all of my Team Challenge teammates as I set out on the run, it really lifted the spirits.  I really enjoyed the change to the 1 spot transition and the route it took us on.  By this time I had friends everyone on the course to cheer on.  After all the reason I signed up for the race was to be out there with them cheering them all on.  I was an hour late to the party but still got to see a lot of them out there.  It was right after the turn around that I had to use the bathroom again… thought it was going to be the final straw… but thankfully it wasn’t.  This time though I was riding that line of not having anything left in the tank.  I was taking some gel’s at the aid stations with some water and base salts. Just anything to get some energy going.  I was reduced to a walk/run as the reserves were running out.  I was still maintaining a 12 min mile so I felt good about things.  Running through the Fil-Am-Tri area was always a huge lift of spirits as I heard my name called and everyone cheering.  I should have stopped and asked for a donut or 12.  It was around mile 8 or 9 that I ran into Shangrila and we chatted.  I couldn’t tell you about what though.  It was nice to see her out there cheering for everyone.  I gathered myself even more for the final push.  At this time my calves were pretty well knotted with some cramping here and there.  Kept taking the salt and water in, pouring water down the back and putting ice in the hat.  I was happy to still be able to keep passing people.  Finally the last 2 miles were in sight, and I could see the FAT’s (Fil-Am-Tri) banner and told myself I just have to make it there and I’m home free.  The tight calves were causing my left knee to hurt and as I was approaching the finish chute my left hamstrings started to cramp up.  Luckily there was a woman in front of me, so I thought to myself… Let her get her moment.  So I slowed it down to a walk so that I wouldn’t it for her going across the finish line.  This gave me a small rest.  Then she slowed to a walk.  When I asked if she was alright and she replied “yes”.  I took off running through the finished.  My finish time was over 7:31:xx and I knew it was going to be ugly.  As promised I found C and we went to the medical tent to be checked out.

Finishing up:
Every race is different, even if it’s the same course.  The day is different, the weather is different, and the moment is different.  Now some people will say that I made a stupid choice to race in the condition that I was in, and that’s ok.  It’s their opinion.  I consulted 2 doctors, 2 RN’s, and I was in good hands through the entire race.  I had a plan in place if I got into trouble, and there were people on the course who knew my condition and would have stopped me if they felt that I wasn’t able to finish.  Having that level of support from the tri community is simply amazing.  With that said, I was fine in the medical tent.  They just made me get some more fluids in and rest a bit.  It was all precautionary.   Even checked in with my doc buddy later that night and he said if I needed anything let him know and they’ll take care of me.

The race really tested my body, my patience, and my perseverance.  It was a constant battle of quit or should I keep going.  It also shows that no matter who the athlete, sometimes you just have to slow it down and collect yourself.  It’s these kinds of races where everything seems to go wrong that you find out what type of athlete that you really are.  Do you keep getting up when it seems you’re always falling on your face, or do you just stay down.  We are capable of more than we think we can do.  We just have to keep getting back up.  We need to have faith and you have to believe in yourself that we are going to get across that finish line.  It’s been a while since I was in that position, so it was a nice reminder out there that I still got up, and crossed that line.

 

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Escape from Alcatraz–Race Report and More.

311843_200101088_XLargeCrossing the finish line of what is one of the most iconic triathlons in the world.  I did it, I completed it, I escaped from Alcatraz.   There is a certain allure about doing this race around the triathlon world that I exists in.  I was told it’s a bucket list race and that everyone should try it.  It’s a lottery style entry with 2 drawings.  The first drawing for obvious reasons, but the second drawing is for the slots that the weren’t claimed by the first wave of people.  So you really have 2 shots of getting in this race.   Well I signed up for the lottery with ZERO thought about actually getting in.  I’m pretty sure I was peer-pressured into it.  Needless to say I didn’t make the first round but I did make the second round.  You jump off a boat in San Francisco Bay right next to Alcatraz Island and swim to the shore by the Marina Green.  This water is notorious for being cold and choppy and having a hell of a current that can sweep you towards the Golden Gate.  Then you bike 18 miles through the Presidio and Golden Gate Park.  It’s a very technical course with a lot of ups and downs 10299154_10155729472820192_2422600405623214181_nand sharp turns.  Then run is along the same course as the bike down to a beach and then up the notorious “Sand Ladder” shown to the left.  Then it’s a run back down and through a long chute with lots of spectators to finish things off.  The weather also plays a huge role in how this race goes as well.  You didn’t know what you were going to get till race morning.

Pre-Race: I got into town Saturday morning before the race.  I jumped a 7AM flight and landed at 8:30AM.  After the public transportation and Uber to the hotel it was 10:30 so I had them drop me off at the expo.  The line for packet pickup was incredible and was wrapped around for 2+ hours.  There was a lot of excitement in the air as I ended up talking to several athletes and found my friends from San Diego and met some new Fil Am Tri Club members.  I didn’t really pay much attention to the athlete briefing and in retrospect I didn’t really need to.  There has been such a flood of information flowing through me from a lot of sources to where I felt really prepared.  The day though was just go go go and I didn’t really have time to relax as much as I had liked to.  Either way I felt really prepared for this race and was in bed by 9AM with a 3:30AM wake up time.  We weren’t allowed to rack our bikes the night before so I followed my buddy Kevin and his friend to the transition time.  We had to be on the shuttle to the boat by 5:00AM so we left the hotel at 4:15AM.  Thankfully my girl made me my PB&Banana Bagel, and out the door I went.  It was COLD that early, but once we hit transition there was a lot of excitement in the air as I got my transition setup.  I was right at the end which was even better.  I found Kevin who was wrapping up his transition and we got on the shuttle to the boat.

The Swim (35:50):  At 6:35 the boat launched and we were on our way.  There was no turning back.  It was a one way trip for 2000 triathletes.  The excitement on the boat was amazing and there was a lot of nervous swimmers out there as well who seemed really anxious.  I felt confident, I had a game plan.  Jump off the boat on the far left or to the far right and then sight for the 2 ugly apartment buildings and then follow the shore line.  I figured worst thing that happens is that I undershoot the exit and swim down current to it.  By 7AM I had my wetsuit on completely and was pouring water in it to get the water layer present and warmed up for the jump into the 60 degree water.  I had my booties on, and I was outside on the deck warming up with Andy Potts who I’d met the day before.  We wished each other a great race and then before I knew it, it was time for the National Anthem.  The announcer then called the time it was 7:25 and the pro’s lined up first, the doors were open.   The water temp was 60 degree’s with a current of 6 knots going towards the ocean, with minimal chop.  The horn goes off and the pro’s jump off but then everyone jumped right behind them.  There was no pause and I approached the right side and jumped in the water.  It was a total rush.  I could see the lead boat lights and I figured that now I’d just sight off that and keep it dead ahead of me.  This worked the entire time till my goggles fogged up on me.  After stopping and clearing them I was probably 1/2 a mile off shore and I cut the inside to swim right into the exit exactly as planned.  I exited the water and then ran to the shoes I planned to run back to transition in.

311843_200089360_XLargeThe Bike (1:06:45):  I spent 10:30 in T1 (which included the 800M run back to the T1 area.  I really wanted to take my time and just enjoy the race experience.  This was after all probably the only time I’m ever going to do the race.  Once on the bike I knew what was coming, 2 miles of flat and then the climbs.  I took the course very conservatively.  Some of the down hills you could hear people slamming their breaks and you could smell brake pads in the air.  I saw one person being taken away in an ambulance who appeared to go over the handle bars.  The road conditions weren’t all that great either, so I felt I made the right choice to really play it safe and not over do it.  I had my Base Performance Rocket Fuel (Base Aminos, Base Hydro, Base Electrolyte Salts, and Karbolyn) and a bottle of water for nutrition on the bike.  I averaged 16.2 MPH on the road bike which I’m ok with.  It was a technical course and crowded.  Along the course you could see the fog just pouring in, and moving.  It was thick as you can see from the picture.  As I approached the bike in, I told myself I’m 2/3rds the way done.  I got this and to enjoy the run.  There are a lot of climbs, so take it easy and just enjoy the experience.

The Run (1:20:36):  I spent 4 mins in T2 again just taking my time.  By this time the crowd was really big and cheering for everyone coming in and going out of transition.  I saw my girl on the way out, gave her a high five and went on my merry way.  I was cruising a nice 10:30 min mile pace which for me, I’m happy with.  Been dealing with some foot issue’s that limited my running but I also knew that the climbs were coming so I didn’t want to push it either.  I hit the first hill and I just kept telling myself short steps and look ahead.  Just like my coach told me.  Outside of having to walk up some stairs because it was single file and there were people walking up at this point.  I was cruising about an 11:30 min mile uphill which I felt great still.  As I was going out I saw Andy Potts and Eric Lagerstrom battling it out for first.  Of course I cheered Andy on.  We ran down a trail to the beach and ran on Baker Beach for while.  Then around mile 5 it happened, the sand ladder.  I looked up and everyone was walking it.  I was going to walk it.  The wood beams were covered with sand and there was just no room to run up it.  Everyone who was walking up it was joking around and we were laughing and just enjoying things.  Little did we know that it was being filmed, so we all put on smiles at the top.  From this point it was all downhill from here.  I started cruising and then at some point right around mile 5.5 I slipped on some dirt and fell down.  I recovered nicely but the body got a bit banged up.  I walked it out a bit to make sure there was nothing mechanically wrong with me.  The knee’s moved without pain and there wasn’t any tight muscles.   I walked a bit more to shake it off and once we hit the flat final 1.5 miles I just kept up a constant jog.  I saw some friends just coming out on the run and cheered them on.  I took some time at the aid stations to wash off some of the dirt that I was covered in (have to look good for the pictures).  As I approached the chute I looked around to make sure there was no last minute sprinters and I relished the accomplishment that I just completed as I crossed the finish line.  My final time was 3:17:xx but all in all I don’t care.  I had a lot of fun.  The race is awesome and such a rush from start to finish.

Reflecting Back:  Even with my fall, there was not a bad moment I had in this race at all.  It was much better than I expected and anticipated.  A race that I’ve heard several people say they have done it.  It was a badge of honor type race.  I’ve joined the group of athletes who have escaped from Alcatraz.  I watched video on the swim, I’ve swam the distance before.  My girl and I went out on a boat tour the day after the race and I looked at the swim from above the water verses being inside it.  It makes the race feel like an even better accomplishment.  It’s one thing to swim down here in San Diego where the water’s pretty darn clear and warm.  It’s another to jump off a perfectly good boat into San Francisco Bay next to Alcatraz and swim to short.  It wasn’t more than 4 years ago that I would have told myself I was insane to even attempt it, never the less complete the damn thing.

Oceanside 70.3–Volunteer Race Report!

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Well, here we are at the end of our shift.  We all volunteered to be swim handlers at the 2015 Oceanside 70.3 Half Ironman.  I wanted to race this race but I missed the signup, so I went with St. George instead.  The next best thing to racing is volunteering.  It’s my chance to give back to the sport and to the racers.  In my early days of racing I never really paid much attention to volunteers, in fact I really didn’t care about them.  I paid my money and most of the time I was out there suffering just trying to finish.  Then after my first volunteer gig as a swim buddy I started to really take notice and start thanking them as I’m running or biking.  I’m usually a swim buddy and out there swimming with the slower swimmers.  At Ironman events that’s not allowed, so I took the next best thing.  Making sure everyone gets in and out of the water safely.

Race Day11068401_10205307342034859_4408981667675072733_nHanging out with TCSD before reporting.

The best part of being in the water is that you have access to transition and you don’t have to be down at the entry/exit till 20-30 minutes before the pro’s start.  So I was able to wander around T1/2 and talk with some friends and give some final words of encouragement to other first timers I knew racing.  Before I knew it, it was time for me to head down to the swim entry/exit.  I really wasn’t expecting anything since when I’m running out of the water I don’t take any assistance and I’m off down to transition.  However, I got to talk to some of the pro men and women before they got into the water and they thanked me for volunteering.   Andy Potts is a nice guy on top of being fast in the water, and Jesse Thomas is flat out funny before the swim.  I couldn’t recognize the women with their goggles on already and caps, but that’s ok.   The gun went off and the mass flow of racers entered the water in waves in what seemed 3 minutes apart.  All the swim handlers cheering them on as they marched towards the water.  They even had the seals to cheer them on and provide some entertainment while they made their way to the start line.  About 22 minutes after the start the pro men started to come in and I had to go over to the exit for safety reasons.

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As the pro’s came in the mass of age groupers were not far behind.  At about 45 minutes after the start it was madness.  I was assisting swimmers up and unzipping wetsuits.  I pulled up several of my friends swimming and cheered them along the run.  Then I felt someone grab my hand and as I turned and looked at her she said, “I have no legs, will you help me?”  I got down and picked her up and carried her to her chair that was waiting on the ramp with her legs.  She was an amputee racing with CAF.  Everyone was clapping for her and she was smiling.  I was moved and inspired to be sharing her moment with her.  Every day I listen to people complain about how bad of a day they had or are having, but here is a woman with no legs out there swimming and enjoying the simple things that we often take for granted.  It was an honor and privilege for me to assist her.  In a moment that seemed like it took 20 minutes had only taken a couple and I was back to action holding up swimmers who couldn’t find their land legs after being in the water for so long.  As the slower swimmers started coming in we started seeing a lot of people disoriented so we spent some time walking up the ramp with them till they found their land legs and knew what was going on.  I saw an older man who waved me over and I grabbed his hand.  He really grabbed on strong and started to shake as I pulled him up and he stood up.  He looked at me and said “I did it, I didn’t think I’d make it, but I did it!”  I said “Congratulations, the hard part is done right!”  We both laughed but when he took off his goggles he had tears and a smile ear to ear.  He gave me a big hug and said thank you for being here, and said “I did it” one last time as he went up the ramp.  I started to get teary eyed.   (I’m starting to get teary eyed just writing this).

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As less and less swimmers came in we know the swimmers coming in now were at risk of not being able to continue.  Then the race official appeared and there were 3 swimmers who weren’t allowed to continue.  It was a little heartbreaking to see.  Some of those swimmers were in the water well over 1 hour and 10 minutes.  Then the floatilla of boats, SUPs, and wave runners came towards the dock.  It was the last swimmer in, and everyone gave him a cheering welcome back.  We all knew he wasn’t going to make the cut off but he at least finished the swim which is a great achievement.

last swimmer out

As I was helping him up since he couldn’t stand on his own we got to the race official and I heard the official give the DNF speech.  It’s not one that I ever plan to hear for not making a cut off.   I really hope he comes back next year and finishes the entire race.  I could feel how deflated he got after receiving the news.   Once all the swimmers were out we got the dock all ready to go for use again and I was off to the TCSD and FilAmTri tents to cheer on the racers.  All in all for the day I walked/ran over 12 miles and cheering is a workout on it’s own.  I was exhausted all evening.  I tried to get my 8 mile run in but got 2 miles before I was done.   I was sleeping by 8:30PM… ZZZZZzzzzzz

Ironman Arizona Race Report

0823_098542Here it is my race report.  First I’d like to thank my coach Julie Dunkle and the group that I trained with.  Without you girls it would not have been as much fun.  Also want to thank my parents for supporting me through all this and my kid sister Jill who was my sherpa and handled a lot of stuff for me on race day.

Arriving in Tempe on Thursday allowed me to handle a lot of the athlete requirements before everyone got into town.  This helped keep a lot of pressure off of me.  Saturday was gear check day for my bike and my gear bags which helped even more come race morning.

Race Morning:
Thankfully I got to bed early and I slept like a rock!  Woke up and ate 3 peanut butter and banana sandwiches while sipping some water.  Got the rest of my special needs bags set to go went through my race checklist and once everything was good my sister and I went down to the race venue.  It opened at 5AM and we were there around 5:15AM.   Once down there I had to get my nutrition into my bike and everything all set that I couldn’t leave overnight.  Got my special needs bags dropped off, dropped my friends off at the pool, and completely forgot about putting my salt sticks into my bike as well putting on my HR monitor.  Said good bye to the kid sister and got in line for the swim start.

Swim:0823_076121
I positioned myself up towards the front to avoid having to swim over people.  As I treaded water and waited for the gun to go off I was anxious to get started.   The excitement in the air was astonishing.  As the cannon (not a gun or horn) went off the washing mashing began and for me it didn’t stop till I got out of the water.  I swam a 1:10 which I was pretty disgusted with but I also wasn’t swimming as fast as I could.  I held back some because I had a 112 mile bike and a marathon to do.  So I wanted to conserve some energy seeing as though I’d never gone so far in my life.  I settled into a good rhythm away from some people and just kept swimming.   The turns got a bit crowded but nothing crazy.  On the return there was some waves pushing from the rear which helped and the sun was not in our eyes anymore.   I didn’t wear my Garmin this time around I kept it on my bike.  I didn’t really have any issue’s exiting the water but once I was out finding a wetsuit stripper that was available was a bit interesting.  Finally after that was done I trotted into the transition tent.

Bike:
0823_020538I was fully expecting to get a 5 hour ride with at least 20 MPH average here.  I jumped on the bike feeling great   It wasn’t till we got to a clearing that I had felt the wind gusts and knew it was going to be a long day…  Once I turned onto the Bee Line Hwy it was 11 miles of straight headwinds all the way out and then tailwind all the way back.  I didn’t have my HR strap on but I don’t use HR when riding since I have my Power2Max Power Meter.  I kept my watts under 214 to keep me in Zone 2.  Even going downhill I didn’t want to hammer it out too fast and not have any legs to battle the headwind going back.   With each successive loop the winds kept getting stronger and stronger eventually slowing me down to 8MPH at some points.   During the bike I also had 4 damn flats… 4 of them.  As that 5th hour ticked away I just kept riding to get to the run.   My nutrition was dead on (could have used more salt sticks) but I felt great getting off the bike and ready to hit the run.   The change to the speedfill bottle on the frame and the aerobar bottle holder worked out great!  I kept my APX in the bottle and then the water bottles from the aid stations in the aerobar holster.

Run:WP_20141116_15_39_57_Pro
My plan here was to run 4 minutes and walk 1 minute all at an easy pace for the first loop and then crank out some more intensity.  Grabbed some water at the first aid station along with Gu Chomps (Not sure I should have).  Then ran into Stuart from the Tri Club and we chit chatted and both were along the same run/walk plan.  We were cruising a nice 11 min mile pace which I was OK with.   At the 2nd aid station I took some cola (I wanted a caffeine pick up after the head winds.  Well the cola was not flat by any means and right around mile 3 I started to feel gassy… very gassy.  I was burping hoping it was just gas and then you have that ah-ha moment where as they say “Don’t trust a fart”.  I told John and Stuart that I’d catch up to them.  I spent the next 10 minutes or so in that porta-john.  Then it seemed I would repeat that for the next 10 miles except only taking in water, pretzels and grapes.  I didn’t know if that combination would help but in my mind my thought process was like this.  Pretzels to help absorb any carbonation, water to help dilute the cola more, and grapes for the sugars.   I don’t know if it was the “best” thing but for me it worked.  I started to feel human again around mile 12 and I was off to run/walking with enjoyment (Yes I said enjoyment).  I saw my parents when I started the 2nd lap and asked where some others were and they said they are out there running.  I was relieved they made the bike cut-off.  I stopped at my special needs bag and changed out my shoes (I shouldn’t have done this either).  Why did I change out my shoes when the one’s I was wearing seemed perfectly ok.  Either way I started running again with my 4/1 ratio.  Around mile 16 I was in a daze of things tunnel vision to just make it to the far turn around and that’s when I asked a volunteer for some water and instead she gave me perform.  Well, after that perform went down the hatch in about 15-20 seconds it was coming back up along with everything else in my stomach.   I took some water and tried to jog it out a bit which was fine for a bit and ended up puking a couple more times.   Finally at the mile 20 or so turn around I had been feeling really good.  Then my coach Julie started running with me for a bit and we had a chit chat.  She asked if I was alright and I said not really.  Explained the stomach stuff to her.  She said I was going to make it, even if I ended up walking the rest of the way I was going to make it.   By this time by feet were really starting to hurt (damn shoes, I knew it was the shoes).  I should have never changed them out.  I hit mile 24 and I could hear the finish line.

The Finish:0823_090644
At mile 24 once I started to hear everyone being called an Ironman everything kind of hit me.  I really was going to make it, I really was going to become an Ironman.  I didn’t care about the time I was going to make it.  I started thinking about how many people supported me through this.  How I wish my father could have been alive to find out that his oldest son had turned his life around from a heavy drinker to an Ironman and an inspiration.   I wished my grandparents were still around as well.  Finally as I turned the final corner down the finish chute I remember seeing the lights.  I remember seeing all the hands wanting hi-fives.  I remember hearing “Christopher Holley, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”.  I couldn’t tell you my emotions at that moment.  I can’t tell you what else I heard.  I can’t even tell you at what point I got my medal.  I don’t even remember taking the finisher picture.   I remember seeing Rhonda at some point which surprised me that she made it out.  I remember my parents meeting her and not much else after that.

Coming Too:WP_20141116_21_21_58_Pro
My parents went back to the hotel they were tired, I could tell by their smiles that I made them proud.  I still had to watch the rest of Team Dunkle come in.  I heard some of the ladies and Henry finish but I couldn’t make it through everything in time to cheer them on going down the chute.  Nicole had finished as well but couldn’t move fast enough either.   Finally I made my way around everyone to the inside turn of the finish shoot.  As the final hour approached more and more of the ladies from Team Dunkle finished.  They had did it.  My certain someone had finished and I was so proud.   Finally Erika crossed the finish line all smiles.  She was soo excited she ran down the far side of the chute away from her dad and she hi-fived every single hand she could.  We all did it, we all become an Ironman that day.

Wrapping Up:
I still can’t believe it’s over just like that.  It was a 5 month journey that brought me to places that I’d never been both physically and mentally.  As I look back at the race day while writing this.  I had a LOT of fun.  At the end of the day that’s what being an athlete is all about… FUN.

San Diego Triathlon Challenge–The Best Day in Triathlon

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I heard about this race from a friend of mine Jeff, and something in me said that I had to do it.  I fundraised to get into the race, $600 dollars to be exact.  Let’s just say that this race wasn’t about winning.  To me it was about being inspired by others, the athletes who have the heart but didn’t quite have the tools and that’s what makes CAF so great.  The money we fundraised went to help getting them what they needed to compete.

The weekend started with a race simulation for IMAZ but 1800030_335860976586302_3630944204652367980_oonce I finished I had to get to my packet pickup for the race.   I really was not expecting anything but the usual expo with the usual packet pickup stuff.    But who did I just happen to bump into right as I stepped foot?  It was Karen Aydelott who brought me to tears watching her in the 2013 Ironman World Championships as she was struggling to cross the finish line.  Talk about inspiration from the start.  It was incredible.  As I went through the process and watching all the people out here especially the kids it really brought things into perspective.  How fortunate we are to be able to do what we can do.  How many people don’t realize how good they have it and complain every single day about how hard life is to them.  I grabbed this picture from a friend because this is what our packets came in.   You can read what our fundraising efforts brought to these athletes.  Now at every packet up there is the swag bag.   I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to get either.   At every other race we get a cheap bag with flyers in it and then maybe a super WP_20141018_18_47_37_Prosmall cliff bite.  Nope I turned the corner and there were rows of Xterra transition bags with CAF imprinted on the sides.  When I got home I emptied it out on my bed and holy cow!  The best swag bag I could have asked for.  Converse, Hoodie, Flip Flops, Nutrition items, socks, running gear, shirt, and special rainbow socks in honor of Robin Williams.  I need to find a way to get more involved with CAF.

Race morning..
I got there a bit early so that I could try and find decent parking.  I figured it would have been a total mess seeing as the even is in La Jolla Cove and parking sucks there to begin with.   I found awesome parking though and got into transition and setup right at the end with great real estate.   I ran into Alexis, Pam, Audrey, and Erika who were volunteering so it was nice to see the friendly faces.  I didn’t really get anything prepped like my stickers and such till I was in transition because I didn’t do em the night before and this wasn’t a serious race.  I walked over and talked to some buddies also doing the race as always.  The best part about racing is the amount of friends you see and cheer on.  At 7AM they gathered us all up to the watch the jumbotron where they had the parade of athletes along with a tribute to Robin Williams who I didn’t know till he passed away they he loved cycling and gave back to the Challenged Athletes Foundation.  Truly a selfless man who passed too soon.  With that I got to see and speak with a little bit from some of the pro’s like Meredith Kessler, Luke Mackenzie, and Paula Newby-Fraiser.   These are celebrities amongst the triathlete community and it was great to see them out here for a good cause.  I will note that I got dropped on mile 1 of the bike by Luke… it wasn’t fair cause I got the red light!

Swim: 20 minutes unofficial… I say that because the stairs up to the timing mat was congested and took 1-2 minutes to get up it.
The horn went off and had a very smooth swim, however it was hard to site with the smaller buoys and the rollers coming through and I was off course by a lot.  I was still making good time and rounded all the buoys in what seemed like a super fast swim (I was right).  Water was blue and could see the sea life.   As I was swimming past the other athletes missing limbs I was honored to be out there sharing the experience with them.  In fact I wish I could pull them behind me.   Coming out of the swim and up the steps was a bit congested but ran into Jeff and we chit chatted.  Then I hear in the background from Bob Babbit… Chris Holley what a hell of a swim.  I was 5th out of the water of 87 people.

Bike: 2:32:xx
It was a little odd with this bike because they didn’t close off the roads so we had to stop at all the stop lights and signs.  Oh and there were hills.. hard ones.  La Jolla Shores Dr was nothing but up hill and then on the way back we had Torrey Pines.  Surprisingly though it wasn’t as bad as I had though… that training is really paying off but I need to train some more.

Run: 1:59:31
By this time the sun was getting to me and I just kept on moving.  I tried to maintain the run 4 minutes walk 1 minute which worked for the most part but going up La Jolla Shores Dr took more out of me than I had though.  I had to walk the 2nd half up.   The upside is that there is a sidewalk there so it looks like I”ll be running up that street for a while now.  The volunteers at the aid stations where awesome and at mile 3 and 6 there was this kid who was just amazing and brought a smile to my face.  It was going down La Jolla Shores that I tried to open the stride up more but my legs felt like concrete blocks and I really didn’t want to fall on my face.  At mile 7 I had a visitor who ran/walked with me the entire time and cheered me on.   Then around mile 8.5 on the final hill upwards I walked it and we started talking with a guy named Dan.  He was doing the individual race as well and I noticed he was missing his hand.   We talked all the way through to the finish line.  His legs were cramping and mine where blocks… It was a nice reminder that it wasn’t about winning.  It was about having fun.

InstagramCapture_96c98d0d-0345-4a65-aae4-3fe61601416ePost Race:  Cookie’s
Carrie was there and I basically ate the rest of the cookies she had in her bag.  Yup I’m a cookie monster.   Rhonda was there which was cool, she had never seen me cross the finish line.  My company helped me grab my stuff in transition and then I was chatting with Jeff and Brian.  We talked about the race and IMAZ and how we’re both feeling really prepared for it.   He then introduced me to Eric who was a challenged athlete who also did Kona with the refuel chocolate milk team.   That was awesome since I watched his progress through the Got Chocolate Milk videos with Hines Ward.   I will do this race again either as an individual or as a team.   It was nice to go out there and not have the pressure about who’s first, second, or third.

TriRock San Diego 2014–It’s Not Always About Winning.

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It was this race 1 year ago that I told myself that “If I train hard enough that I can win 1st place in Clydesdale.”  You can read about it here.  It was at that race that my sister asked if you could do portions of the race and if you could can she do the swim?  My friend Jojo promptly said yes and she would do the run.  That means that I would do the bike.  Going into this race I will admit that it felt a bit strange not  being the one doing the swimming for a relay since that’s what I usually do.   However this race wasn’t about me, it was about my kid sister who set out to achieve a goal and something that I could be a part of her doing.  Through my weight loss and race last year it sparked her interest in possibly doing something she might enjoy.

Jill was unsure of the distance and I told her we would do the intermediate distance which meant she had to swim 1500M in the San Diego Bay.   She was a water polo player and swimmer in high school as well.  Like her brother though she was a sprinter, so the longer constant swimming can be a bit taxing finding the right cruise control.   In the end though she finished in 53 minutes and she was proud of herself and proud of the accomplishment.   She was all smiles through the whole thing even at the end.   I’m proud of her.   My bike on the other hand I was very happy with.  I hammered out a 1:00:52 22 mile bike ride.  It was great to be out there testing out the new aero helmet and cheering on my friends while out there passing them.  Not in disrespect but in a positive way saying you can do this, you’re almost there.  Thanks to the ambulance that caused me to totally go over the 1 hr mark as well.  Jojo finished off the run strong.   No podium finish but we were all smiles.  My buddy Josh finally got out there and did his first ever triathlon as well.   Josh did the TriRock as part of my relay back in 2012 and did the bike portion.  It was great to see him out there doing the whole thing.

The best part though was cheering on my friends from the Tri Club and Team Challenge.  I honestly had more fun out there cheering for everyone then racing.   It was a good reminder to me that triathlon isn’t about winning.  It’s about the experience, it’s about watching people achieve something that they didn’t think they could do.

59 Days and Counting till IMAZ… WTF IM #2?

Time is flying by and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have my doubts that I am ready for this.  The days are slowing ticking away and my mantra lately has been “This Ironman isn’t going to train for itself buddy.”  I’m biking longer than I ever have before  and enjoying it.  This past Saturday while I was out on a 4.5 hour bike ride it was around mile 70 where I thought to myself that man 20 miles seemed so long back when I signed up for IMAZ.   Now 20 miles just seems like a warm up.  Now with me really having the confidence in not blowing up on the bike I can start getting in more running as well which I’ve totally been slacking on.

I really need to break this mental barrier of running is punishment again.  Today after a 75 minute spin class I went out on a 2.5 mile run and had the best times in a long time and surprisingly in the heat and humidity I felt great (Yeah I just said that).   I opened up my stride a bit more but watched my cadence go from 79/80 to 76/78 but my HR instead of riding that 147 BPM line dropped to 138/140 BPM.  I was lower in my Z2 and my avg times per mile dropped from a 10:30 min/mile to a 9:31 min/mile.  Now I did have to walk once to stretch the hip flexor a bit but then chugged along.   It kind of has me wondering now if trying to get the shorter steps and higher cadence was back firing for me since I have longer legs.   I’ll monitor some of the longer runs to see what’s going on with that.

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On another note yes I signed up for IM Canada as well.  WTF was I think is the first thing that comes to mind but I must be honest.   The course looks absolutely awesome and I’ve heard excellent peer reviews of it.  So why not?   This is in July so it works perfectly for my St. George 70.3 in the beginning of May.  At first I didn’t think I’d like some of the longer IM training but it’s kind of growing on me in a sadistic way.