Monday, June 30, 2008

Ironman: The Bike

I've been giving Jon a hard time lately, but before I left for Idaho he sent me an amazing email with tons of advice for Ironman. Some was physical, some was mental. Some was generic, some was specific for me. All very useful. One of the things he told me was to use my (relative) strength on the bike for the run. Meaning I should take it easy a bit and save my legs for the marathon. This was tough advice. Although the overall time is what's most important, I wanted to have a decent showing on at least one leg and the bike was my best shot.

Still, Jon knows best so I held back. Basically, for the entire ride I stayed off the big ring unless I was going downhill. The first 10-15 miles of each loop are pretty flat and would have been a good time to gun it a bit but I stayed with higher cadence, lower speed.

There is a long steady climb leaving town as you head up to the hills and I saw the clock car leading the 1st place male coming back down. I thought it was pretty cool to see him and know that we were in the same race. He was going slower than I expected; more on that later.

The hills of Coeur d'Alene aren't big, but there are lots of them. And just to keep things interesting, the climbs were mostly straight, but the descents were winding curves or had 90-degree turns at the bottom. Which meant you could rarely take advantage of the downhill monentum.

I can honestly say I didn't think the hills were that bad. I did a lot of hill training and felt well-prepared for them. In fact, I almost looked forward to the climbs because that's where I passed a lot of people. I know you're supposed to ride your own race, but it still feels good to pass people from time to time. Especially when tbey're struggling up a hill on their $4000 bikes. Posers.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first 40 miles or so of the bike. It was scenic, we had nice cool weather and I was feeling great. I was finished with the climbing and all I had to to was ride downhill for about 10 miles back into town to start the second loop. Easy, right? Wrong. That's when the winds picked up. Now you have to understand, nobody likes wind but they affect me on a much deeper level. I can deal with hills, I can deal with cold, but wind beats me down at an emotional level. There were times when I was struggling to maintain 14mph DOWNHILL. Remember that guy in first place going slowly? Now I knew why. I was having of flashbacks of Oceanside 70.3, where the farther I went the longer it would take me to finish.

I had hoped that the wind was isolated to that hill, but when I started loop 2 the winds were still there. Regardless of what Jon told me about taking it easy on the bike, I knew that I wouldn't be posting a fast bike time having to deal with this. I started redoing the math, worrying what would happen if I took an extra hour on the bike because of the wind. It may have been a silly concern, but it was something I had to consider.

I spent too much time at the Special Needs stop. I packed a ham sandwich in my bag and I originally planned on eating it at the stop. But I realized that was a dumb idea, I might as well keep moving while eating but it took me a while to figure out where to stow the sandwich on the bike. I took some Ritz Bits out of my Bento box and crammed the sandwich in there instead. I didn't want to eat it all at once, so I basically took one bite every 20 minutes. This way I had a constant flow of calories coming in without having a big lump of food in my stomach all at once. It took me over 2 hours to finish it. Oddly enough, when I put the last bite in my mouth I started to gag on it and had to spit it back out in my hand. Disgusting. I guess that meant that I was done.

I tried to spend more time in the aero position to compensate for the wind. Which meant going aero on winding turns downhill. A little scary with a few close calls of having to jump back on the brakes but no crashes. My chain popped off twice going up hills though.

At one point, a guy next to me started to chat:

Him: "Man, that was a SWEET car!"
Me: "What was it?"
Him: "A classic Porsche"
Me: "I missed it. I'm just keeping my head down to the road."
Him: "You're missing all the great scenery!"
Me: "I caught the scenery on the first loop."

That was kind of my attitude. I certainly wanted to experience the race, but at the same time I had to try to do a smart race. I feel I did that. Jon's advice of holding back on the bike worked. When it was all over, my legs felt... well they felt like they could run a marathon.

Tattoo Tuesday

Tomorrow I'm getting my tattoo during lunch. I still don't have the final design. I sent my tattoo guy the original M-Dot-Whale logo and told him about some minor changes I wanted to make. He came back with a HIDEOUSLY drawn whale which made me very nervous about the whole thing. We emailed back and forth, and basically I'm going to make my own changes and he will transfer it to my leg.

The whole process seems frought with peril to me.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ironman: The Swim

I've said it many times before and I'll say it again: I'm not a good swimmer. I have bad form and can't swim a straight line to save my life. I don't enjoy swim workouts. I don't know what happened on race day but I... Loved... the Swim. Maybe I was just happy that the race was finally happening, or I was so relieved that the lake warmed up to a staggering 59.5 degrees but I had a great time in the water. The last song they played before the canon went off was "Bittersweet Symphony" which is one of my regular iPod training songs. It was a nice way to kick of the race.

I seeded myself too far in the back. I don't consider myself to be an aggressive swimmer, but I was definitely more hardcore than all the people who were stopped dead in the water 100 yards off-shore. All of the stories you hear about the "washing machine" are true; I was grabbed and kicked and pulled and pushed all over the place. There were a series of buoys marking the course, and Rich's dad had jokingly asked "is it supposed to be a slalom? Well, my race DID turn out to be a slalom. I would try to swim a straight line, but would get pushed to the left of some buoys and the right of others. I zig-zagged my way around the course.

I felt really good during the first loop. I checked my watch coming out of the water and it was about 45 minutes. Fantastic. I was hoping for a 1:30-1:45 swim so I was dead on. I was a bit tired for the second loop and I could feel myself getting sloppy, which is fine. It took me 55 minutes to do the second loop. But considering that I was worried that the cold water was going to add 15 minutes to my time, I was thrilled with a 1:40 swim. Even more surprising was the fact that I didn't feel dizzy getting out of the water at all. I was able to run through transition without any problems.

The wetsuit strippers are amazing. They had a little trouble getting my arms off because they said it was too tight (must have been my bulging biceps getting in the way) but they still had me out of the suit in no time.

The transition tent was a little odd. I had a volunteer who was just a little too eager to help me. He kept asking me what I needed out of my bag. "Do you want your socks?" "Do you want your jersey?" The thing is, I didn't know WHAT I wanted. I kept telling him that I just needed a moment to focus. He finally asked "Can I dump your bag for you?" and I just said "fine." and then I got dressed. I don't really remember handing him my wetsuit but I assume he just cleaned up after me as I ran out to get on the bike.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Ironman: Calm before the storm

I do a lot of neurotic things before races, but some of them are actually practical. One of my rituals is that I like to eat dinner early the night before a race. I want to make sure everything has plenty of time to make it through my system by the next morning. I eat at 5:00 sharp. Stephanie graciously offered to cook dinner for us Saturday night, and although I told her about my time request I was still a little nervous. Typically, a 5:00 dinner means that 5:00 you hear "OK, the pasta is boiling and the chicken is just about ready to go in the oven."

Before dinner, Rich and I wanted to drive the bike course. His father offered to drive us, and that was great because it meant I didn't have to worry about steering the car while looking out the windows, taking pictures, and checking the course elevation map. Annie joined us so she could nap in the back seat.

Rich and I did a good job of hydrating on Saturday, which meant that when we saw a pair of Port-a-Potties on the side of the road we pulled over to make use of them. They had just been set up, and we got to christen them ourselves. Have you ever used a brand-spanking-new Port-a-Potty? Let me tell you, it is quite a treat. Everything just looks and smells so fresh. I highly recommend it.

I confess, my heartrate was starting to rise during the drive. Oh, it had nothing to do with the hills. You see, Rich's dad drove his car to Idaho from Western Washington and gas was much cheaper in Coeur d'Alene. He wanted to make sure he drained the tank as much as possible so he could fill up with as much cheap gas as possible. Normally I would be a huge supporter of this kind of behavior, but most of the bike ride was in the middle of nowhere. We were riding on Empty, tens of miles from any gas station, with questionable cel phone coverage. And I wanted to be back by 5 for dinner. I had visions of being stranded out there for hours.

My fears were unjustified, as we made it back to civilization and filled up. We got back to the house right at 5:00, and dinner was waiting for us. I don't mean "coming out of the open", I mean sitting there, ready to be eaten. Chicken, pasta, bread. It may sound like a small thing, but I can't tell you how much of a relief it was and how much it meant to me that Stephanie indulged my compulsive behavior and had dinner ready. And to top it all off, it was delicious. Thank you Stephanie!
I went back to the hotel with the plan of getting to bed at 11:00. It was probably closer to midnight. And I twisted and turned all night. I probably got about 2 hours of sleep total.

I accidently put my Tri Shorts in my transition bag which was laid out in a field overnight. Unfortunately, it rained and the shorts got pretty wet. It wasn't a good feeling having to put on cold wet tri shorts, but what could I do. The bigger problem was with my bike; I taped a printout of the elevation to the handlebars so I could know when to hold back and when I could be more aggressive, but most of the lines and numbers smeared off. Ooops.

On Monday, I told people that I felt surprisingly relaxed before the Race. Annie said "Really? Because we saw the photos we took and in every one of them you look really freaked out." OK, so maybe my brain is just blocking that part out.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


My support team is going to kill me. I get sick just thinking about this:

When I checked into the hotel, the desk clerk told me that the Ironman Room Package included a $75 per day credit towards hotel services including the restaurants, spa, mini-bar, etc. My understanding was that any unused funds would be credited back to my credit card. I was thrilled that the expensive hotel would be $75 less per night.

When I checked out this morning I found out the credit was "use it or lose it". That's $375 of prepaid hotel services. Which means thst although the support crew's breakfast was prepaid, they could have splurged. Someone could have gone to the spa for a free pedicure. Or maybe one of the women could have gone in for something.

I take slight comfort in the fact that there was a $75 daily max; they couldn't have enjoyed a free $200 champagne breakfast. And I went to the local supermarket and bought all the food I wanted to eat because I didn't want any nutritional surprises from a hotel restaurant. So I wouldn't have used any good credit for myself. But with a little bit of planning I could given them some nice hotel perks.

Sorry guys.

Monday, June 23, 2008


I made it!

First of all I want to thank Guest Blogger Ben for giving you all the updates yesterday. Apparently his posts were very popular and well-liked and therefore he'll never be allowed to post here again. (In addition to winning the Best Road Rash at the Lake Arrowhead Tri last year, Ben did his first Ironman in Brazil last month in a stunning 11:01. Not too shabby.)

There is so much to report so rather than doing one huge race report I'll be throwing many random smaller entries over the next few days. Here's the quick summary:

The lake was 59.5 degrees when we started. A little chilly but the temperature was a complete non-issue. I had a great swim and started the bike 10 minutes ahead of where I thought I would be. I loved the first 40 miles or so of the bike ride. I had a pretty decent pace going and the scenery was beautiful. But then the winds picked up. It was pretty bad at times and it deflated me more emotionally than physically. I did a lot of mental struggling for about 30 miles or so but managed to recover. My legs felt pretty good starting the run, but I was having stomach problems caused by eating way too many Shot Bloks. My stomach pretty much destroyed the second half of the first marathon loop but I came back pretty strong for the second loop.

Here's something pretty amazing about my Ironplan:

On May 24th, I said "My best guess is I'll take the golden path and come in at 14:45."
My finishing time was 14:45:39.

Not to take anything away from my incredible supporters in Coeur d'Alene, but I DID make it pretty easy for them to see me. To simplify things, before the race I made some mental changes to the chart and told them "just remember '2-7-6'. I want to start the bike 2 hours after the swim, I want to start the run 7 hours after that, and I want to finish the race 6 hours after that."

I started the bike 1:47 after the race began (13 minutes early).
I started the run 6:58:34 later (86 seconds faster than predicted).
I finished the marathon in 5:59:40 (20 seconds faster than predicted).

If you don't mind, I'll give myself some credit for being able to make adjustments during the race to really meet those target times so closely.

You'll often hear people say "it's fun to go vacation, but after a while you just want to go home." Maybe it's the lake, or the trees, or the Spirit of Ironman still lingering in the air but I've been here 5 days and I'm not ready to leave.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

IM CDA Guest Blog

10:00am Hello friends of Wedgie. This is Ben, Steve, and Robert reporting in from IMCDA. Wedgie is out of the water and on the bike. His approximate time was 1:40 and he was on his bike leaving transition at about 1:47... so much for a 20 minute transition!!! Obviously he has done a good job of setting our expectations awfully low. We were about to sit down and enjoy a little nap in the shade when all of a sudden he was racing out of T1. With the way the course was set up we waited for him to pass by again about 17 miles into the bike. All in all he appears to be doing well and staying slightly ahead of his goal time. See his blog entry Ironplan

P.S. (Ben) Here is a late add to the morning note. I know there had been much talk about the water temp and I can confirm that it did in fact look cold. I can't say it felt cold because there was no way I was going to get near it for fear of falling in or being pushed in, but seeing the look of shock and awe from the athletes was enough to convince me that it was in deed freezing. Then again... I don't know that warm athletes look any more comfortable. After swimming 2.4 miles everyone looks a little like a newborn giraffe when they try and run on the beach.

Also, I would like to add that I take some comfort in knowing that even the pros have a hard time figuring out where they are supposed to go during the race. I have to say almost 50% of the pros opted to not swim towards the giant inflated "Swim Exit" balloon arch with the timing pad underneath it and instead swam for just about any other spot on the beach. Many had to be intercepted in the water and told to swim perpendicular to the beach in order to make a proper swim exit. The rate of age groupers that made this mistake: probably only around 10%.

11:30am Haha... We just ate breakfast at the restaurant in Wedgie's hotel and charged it to his room! That is what he gets for giving us a room key and telling us we can use it as a base camp.

11:50am Here is a photo of Ben and Robert in Wedgie's room.

1:00pm We saw Wedgie on the bike course. We had spotters setup along the way so I (Ben) had lots of time to anticipate his arrival. I stole his phone from his hotel room to take a photo as he went by. He has been very good about being aware of us on the race course and making sure to shout back and pose for photos (not stop and pose, but pose as he runs/rides by). As I yelled he made the keen observation and shouted "Did you steal my phone from my hotel room!" I guess that it is good that even after 70 miles on the bike he is still aware enough to recognize that I was using his phone to take the photo. My goal was to post an action shot of him in the race and this was all I could get.

Stupid iphone.

2:00pm So this is the first Ironman I (Ben) have spectated... in fact this is the first triathlon I have just spectated at and I have to say... I love it. Don't get me wrong, racing is fun and exciting, but lets be honest, it hurts. Being a spectator comes with far less pain, and more how do I say, "on-the-edge-of your-seat-excitement"! IM CDA in particular is well set up for multiple athlete viewing spots along the course so you can hardly go an hour without getting into position to cheer on your friends. And you are always hoping they appear ahead of their goal time and looking strong. And there is a certain training program required for a good day of spectating. We had to learn proper walkie-talkie etiquette in order to communicate from different sports on the course. You have to get good at doing math and anticipate where to stand in order to see your friends the most number of times throughout the day. It also helps to have a handle on the quick and easy food locations so you make sure you are not stuck trying to pay your bill as Wedgie rides by on his bike. I think in the future I will spectate more and race less.

2:30pm All this race watching is making me (Ben) hungry. But Wedgie only keeps a certain kind of food item stocked in his room. So while writing these posts I have racked up a little food debt. Then again, Wedgie might come back and just assume it was he who made the mess.

4:00pm Steve tried his hand at getting an "action shot" of Wedgie and this was what he came up with. Score another point for the delayed iphone picture, but at least Steve was able to keep Wedgie in the frame.

4:15pm (Ben) I was trying not to post much time info since most of you reading this have access to that info at already, but I just need to point out that Wedgie's T2 time was 2:31! I don't know if they lured him out of there with a Snickers bar or what but he just could not wait to get on with the run.

4:30pm (Ben and Steve) We saw Wedgie a couple miles into the run and it was in fact still a run, not a walk. He is looking strong and continues to be in high spirits and pose for the camera. If there is one thing about Wedgie he always tries to be ready for the camera. In fact he turned sideways while running by to make sure we only got shots of his 'good side'. I guess that way even if he has a bad race... he will only have great pictures.

7:00pm Wedgie is near the end of his first lap on the run. He appeared in good spirits as he saw us but he seemed to be experiencing some other problems. He insisted on giving a tapped interview and Annie promptly complied. The ensuing conversation went as such:
Wedgie: "I have eaten Cliff Bloks somewhere in the dozens. And now all I want to go is throw up, fart, or have explosive diarrhea."
Support Team: "Don't worry about it, just keep moving, you are doing great!"
Wedgie: "Guy's you don't understand, I am so bloated, I just need some relief."
Steve: "Wedgie, just pull over and stick your finger down your throat. Cause' sticking it up your a** is not going to have the same effect!"

That brought on a bit of laughter from our bloated blogger and form there a conversation about % complete passed about a minute of the run. Somehow I don't think it was a long enough distraction. He is still moving but the long day is certainly wearing on him. Still there was certainly no doubt in his words that he is committed to finishing strong.

7:20pm Rich Triquart, the other Ironbrother here at IMCDA finishes strong. He shattered his stated goal time of 16:59:59 but we all knew that was just a front. His race prep and methodology may have been unorthodox, but he certainly came through in the race.

8:30pm Wedgie has a little time left before coming in for the finish so the rest of us have decided it is DINNER TIME! You all know what that means... Time to ring up another tab for the room.

9:00pm This is what Ben looked like most of the day. Hugging a giant whale.

9:45pm Michael Pajaro! YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!! Congratulations sir, it has been a pleasure training with you and supporting your race. From all your friends here to see you, and I am sure all others who read along, it has been fun to follow in your journey. Congratulations on a great race!

10:00pm So after a great race, Wedgie was eager to get to the recovery. Here he is after a brisk moment in the lake... yes that is the same lake that required a wetsuit and booties earlier in the day but after a race it doubles as an ice bath.

10:30pm In true Ironman fashion, Wedgie decided to race us to the hotel. He seriously broke out in full sprint, I think he was just trying to show off. After getting to the room he moved on to phase 2 of the recovery. Here he is enjoying a cold mountain dew.

11:00pm Well folks, it has been a fun day. The Disney Tri Team has added two new well deserving Ironman members to its ranks. Wedgie and Rich are regaling us with stories from their adventurous day so it is time to sign off. I am sure you will all get to read about the stories soon enough from Wedgie himself. Thanks for reading along, we have been catching him up on all the phone calls, text messages, and comments left here. Good bye from IM CDA.

Saturday, June 21, 2008's Greatest Post Ever

In all modesty, I consider myself to be a decent storyteller. I like to think I can capture the emotion of a funny or embarrassing moment and share it with others. Well I have to admit, I'm in over my head here. I won't be able to fully describe what has happened in Idaho; I can simply present the facts and hope that you can fill in the emotional impact.

I won Ironman Coeur d'Alene.

Oh sure, the race isn't until tomorrow. And Michael Lovato should finish about 6 hours ahead of me. But it doesn't matter, I won the event. Let me explain.

Rich and I went for a short bike ride yesterday and went back to the rental house. While we were there, Annie showed up from the airport as expected. So we all did the usual "how was the flight, so glad you're here" stuff. Then 2 minutes later I saw Robert coming up the front walk. Turns out,he had been planning on coming to Coeur d'Alene and just never told me. How awesome is that!

We all went into the back yard to look at the chickens (yes, the owners of the house keep chickens) and a few minutes later Steve comes out of the house! Followed by Ben! They all came up to surprise me.

And remind me never to play poker with my Tri team. Rich, my CDA Ironbrother knew everyone was coming up but never told me. His wife Stephanie knew. Stephanie's parents and Rich's dad came out for the race, they knew. Apparently just about everyone on my tri team back home knew and no one spilled the beans. They're all just a bunch of lying, sneaking cheats.

But here's the thing that gets me most emotional. It isn't that the four of them- Annie, Robert, Steve, Ben - took off time from work, and flew from L.A. to Idaho, and got a rental car and a hotel room to watch us race. It's that in a way, I'm really NOT surprised to see them. These are the kind of friends I have on my Tri Team. And it just feels right to have them here.

Friday, June 20, 2008

They call this a WARM-UP?!

Rich and I did a "warm-up" swim in the lake today. It was, by far and without question, the coldest swim I have ever done. I had trouble swimming because it was painful for me to put my face in the water. Keeping my head above water does help me a lot with my sighting and swimming in a straight line, but it is a very slow way to travel. My only hope was that my face would become as numb as my fingers were so that I wouldn't feel the pain any more.

After 20 minutes or so in the water it got a little better but it was still a very difficult swim. I was breathing heavy and maybe just a slight bit of panic of "omg, how am I going to stay in this water for over an hour and a half?!" You might think that the cold water would encourage you to swim faster but it didn't work like that for me. I was constantly thinking "let me get my face out the water just for 10 seconds and get some relief" which slowed me down a lot. I was shooting for a 1:30-1:45 swim, I think now it will be more like 1:45-2:00. And to top things off, even though this was just an open practice swim I was STILL getting kicked in the face by other swimmers passing me.

I am absolutely, positively sticking with the swim booties. I didn't want to use them, but I tried them in the leg and any extra drag they give is the least of my worries. When I compare how bad my exposed fingers felt compared to my covered toes, it's no contest.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

In Idaho

Well the scariest part of Ironman is over; I survived the flight. Rich and Stephanie had a slightly earlier flight and when I went down to get my luggage they were standing there holding a "Go Team Wedgie" sign. Hooray! Very cool.

I'm staying at the host hotel and it is very nice. I have a lovely view of the lake and my own small, private patio. However, there are some problems. I went out for dinner, and when I came back there were 4 chocolates on my pillows! Why must they taunt me? I couldn't stand to look at them, so I ate them. But the worst part of the room is the "Convenience Bar". You know, the pile of overpriced snacks that usually consist of bags of peanuts and raisins and other things I would never eat. Well, behold what they have here:

There is $25.75 worth of stuff I like. There for the taking. And if I were to take something, I suspect it would magically reappear the next day. I'm not sure I can last 3 days like this.

Registration was uneventful. Picked up the bike no problem, got my registration stuff no problem. They really do handle things efficiently; I didn't have to wait for anything. I think I may be sort of excited to be here. However, I still don't like seeing all the buff people with their $5000 bikes. I keep looking around to see where the "normal people" are, but I guess there aren't any.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


My flight to Idaho leaves around 10:00 tomorrow morning, so I'm packing tonight. You may wonder what kind of insanity must surround Wedgie trying to pack for an Ironman. It looks a little something like this:

In addition to just packing, I'm also doing all the things I should have done a week ago: ripping DVDs to my iPhone to watch during the flights, creating/printing out the sign I'll be wearing on my back, etc. etc.

At this point, I'm kind of excited about the "vacation" aspect of the trip. I really enjoyed going to Ironman Arizona as a spectator, I really enjoyed Ironman Lake Placid (spectator), so I'm sure I'll like Ironman Coeur d'Alene. Aside from that pesky race on Sunday, it should be fun. Plus I'm looking forward to seeing trees and water, things we don't have in L.A.


Another nightmare.

As part of the race, you had to read a novel while riding the bike. I showed up to the starting line with the wrong book and had to go to the mall to get the right one. Along the course, the road was so flooded that you had to swim with your bike in sections. At 4:30, with one hour until the bike cut-off, I had 90 miles to go and 400 pages to read and so I dropped out.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My Six-Pack

After a year of Ironman training, I finally have a six-pack. Steve gave it to me.

A six pack of Reeses Big Cup peanut butter cups. They absolutely terrify me. I do not deny myself candy, but I have tried to cut back a bit. So I will have a few Hershey's miniatures or mini peanut butter cups from someone's desk every day. But if I open the Big Cup bag, I'm a dead man. I have no will power. Once I start eating a bag of candy, I don't stop. I don't dare leave the bag at home where I am more vulnerable. Instead, it sits on my desk at work taunting me. (And don't think that hiding it in a drawer will help. You think I will somehow forget it's there?)

But here's something I don't understand about my training/diet. I'm not a complete idiot, I did not expect to lose a lot of weight this past year; I realize I didn't have too much to lose, but I figured I would replace some of my bad weight with good weight. And I KNOW those body-fat analyzers are terrible things and they give wildly inconsistent readings and you should never pay attention to them. But we do.

When I signed up for Coeur d'Alene, I was 152.5 pounds at 14% bodyfat.
Yesterday I was 149 pounds at 14.8% bodyfat.

How is it possible that I'm fatter now?! Hundreds of miles run. Thousands of miles biked. Hundreds of uneaten Oreos and chocolate bars and yet according to the numbers I'm in worse shape now than when I started. Now I'm depressed. I think I'll open up the Big Cups.

Feeling Lucky

Several people have tried to convince me that 879 was a good race number, but I think Stephanie did it best. Stephanie is going up to Idaho to watch me race. (She may also happen to catch her husband racing while she's up there as well). This is what she told me:

"So, I was thinking about your race number and it is the luckiest number you could have (if you're into the "luck" thing).

First, 8 is a VERY lucky number in the Chinese culture
Second, 7 is a conventionally lucky number
Third, 9 is the number of the Greek Gods - remember the movie "The Natural" with Robert Redford? He had #9. It's a powerful number."

I can't argue with that! Of course, you could probably do something like this for ANY number but I choose to believe that my number is in fact special.

Glendale Grand Prix

The things people do for attention...

This weekend I went to the local "Glendale Grand Prix". I think it's called a circuit bike race where they blocked off a few streets and riders do laps for 45 minutes. There were divisions for men, women, kids and little old ladies.

Jon, Brian and Rudy all entered the "Category 5" division. This is for people who are new to circuit racing (or trying to get their wheels back in it). But as Brian pointed out, it was odd hearing the race director refer to them as "beginner riders". Trust me, you did NOT want to be a beginner rider in this group! They were zooming around corners inches away from eachother just like you see on TV. Scary and cool.

Jon (in front)

Brian (left)


Leah was in the group right after the men. Here she is looking strong early in the race:

And here she is shortly after:

Yes, she had a crash. And a pretty bad one at that. As one witness described, there was another cyclist in the group who was "riding squirrelly" who cut Leah off on the inside of a turn and Leah went down. It was a bad enough crash that somehow her rear wheel dismounted. She also blew the front tire and smashed up the handlebars. The paramedics were there very quickly but left her on the street for a few minutes until they were sure she hadn't injured her head or neck. But then Firefighter Studs McHunky came over and everything seemed to be OK. She even got a firehat for being such a good patient.

Husband Brian took her to an Urgent Care Center where she had X-rays done and she has a 100% clean bill of health. Well, with a few painful nasty bruises to have to deal with. The important thing is she's looking forward to getting back on the bike. Go Leah!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Fashion Faux Pas

I'll be the first to tell you I'm not a good dresser. I don't have much fashion sense. I know there are certain rules, I just don't know what the rules are. For example: Black socks. There is some rule about black socks. I don' know if it's "no black socks with white shoes" or "no black socks with white shorts" or whatever. However, I would wager to guess that one of the rules is "no black socks with speedos". Yet I still managed to violate the rule last night.

I ordered a pair of neoprene socks to wear in the 51-degree lake in Coeur d'Alene next week. Normally they would be worn with a wetsuit which I'm sure creates a seamless, elegant look perfect for any occasion. But I just wanted to test them out in the pool so there I was, socks and speedo. I will spare you any photos, but I looked something like this:

I put rubber bands around the top of the socks to simulate the pressure of the wetsuit, but i have to tell you, the socks made it difficult to swim. My legs felt very heavy and I could feel a lot of drag from the socks. They were sealed fairly tight at top so I don't think it was an issue of them collecting water, it's just the material itself around your foot creates drag.

I will bring them to Idaho and test them in the lake. But if it is at all possible to survive the swim without them, I would much rather barefoot-it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Race Strategy

I've made an important decision regarding my race strategy.

A couple of months ago, we had a few rides in 90-degree weather, even creeping up over 100. By the end of our rides, we'd take sips from our water bottles and it would practically burn our tongues. So I picked up an insulated water bottle, which does a decent job of keeping water cool.

Well, I hate it.

It's a bit taller than my regular bottles so I have to fidget to get it into the rack. And there's a big strap that keeps the cap attached to the bottle that keeps hitting my leg unless I have the bottle rotated perfectly. Every time I go to take a drink I start dreading having to deal with it. So I've the fancy-schmancy expensive bottle is out and the freebie water bottles are in. It's not supposed to be hot in Idaho on race day and it will be one less thing to worry about.

Only 99 more stresses to deal with...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I got my bib number today: 879. I don't like it.

Eight-seven-nine. Eight hundred seventy nine. Eighty-seven nine. Eight seventy-nine.

I dunno, there's just no way to say it that sounds cool. It has some of the numbers from 867-5309, but that's about it.

However, it's a much better number than "51", the current temperature of the lake.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Let Freedom Ring

The Olympics are almost here and there has been a lot of discussion about China's history of human rights violations and the freedoms its citizens are denied. Sometimes it's hard to understand how bad it is, but I was given a first-hand perspective of it. A friend of mine from high school is working in China and stumbled upon my blog. He sent me this message:

"I sent this to you from work because, thanks to the great firewall of China, there are some blogs/websites/searches that we can't view from home, so I have to do them at the office (proxy server). So yes, Neoprene Wedgie is banned in China."

China has declared War on Wedgie! Nearly 1.5 billion people are denied the knowledge of the power of Mountain Dew during training. Since China has decided to ban my blog, I've decided that if the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team asks me to represent them in Beijing I will have to decline. No no no, don't try to dissuade me, I've made up my mind. Let Andy Potts and his commie-friendly "" take my place.

I dream of a day when all the world will be open to the Word of Wedgie.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Happy Ride

I've been on a lot of group rides this past year. But not everyone is training for an Ironman, so as the rides got longer and stupider I didn't see some of the people as often. And that's not good. So I wanted to do a ride which would just be fun. It would be a chance for people to get together again and just enjoy riding our bikes without worrying about doing an actual "workout". The ride would have absolutely nothing to do with training. I dubbed it the "Anti-Jon Ride", or more colorfully, the "Screw Jon Ride".

How does one host an Anti-Jon Ride? Basically we did everything that my unofficial bike coach would NOT do:

We started relatively late in the morning.
We drove 15 miles further down the bike trail for the start, to avoid anything resembling an incline.
We took a calm, leisurely pace.
We took a long break for snacks in the middle.
We kept the ride short.

Eight people showed up for the ride, and then by coincidence we ran into Rich who is doing Coeur d'Alene with me. But Rich was in the middle of a 112-mile ride when he saw us, so technically he was doing the "Anti-Anti-Jon Ride."

I really enjoyed the ride. I have to ship my bike to Idaho on Friday, so this was my last weekend with my bike. It was nice to just have a calm ride with friends without stressing about my pace or if I was falling behind the group. And people actuallt were able to CHAT while on their bikes. We need to do more of these. And when we got back to our cars, Steve had a Pot-O-Sugar waiting for us.

Oh, and one more thing: Jon is always taking me to task for having too much stuff on my bike. My bike bag is too big. I carry too much stuff in it. It's all excess weight that is just slowing me down. So in a final act of defiance, I did the ride with 5 pounds of weights stuffed in my bag. Ha!

(you know I love ya man!)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


JEFF??!!! Send me an email!

The end is near

The Brazil group is finished. I am tapering. The end is in sight, and naturally you can't help but get a little philosophical. It has been quite a year. I can't believe all of the races I've done, some for training (Oceanside 70.3) some for pure fun (Lake Arrowhead). And I can't believe the number of miles and countless hours I've spent with some pretty amazing people this past year. You often hear how "the journey is its own reward" and you have to wonder, is that what the true legacy of becoming an Ironman really is?

It better the hell not be.

Look, no offense to my tri team but I can certainly think of better things we could have done than getting up at 6 am every Saturday to drive out to Malibu. You want to bond while suffering in the cold? We could have gone on a ski vacation. You want to suffer in the heat? Let's go to Vegas. Just seems to me like we could have spent the past year having barbeques every weekend.

I expected my first marathon finish to be some sort of big event and I pretty much Could Not Have Cared Less. My only concern was getting back to my car so I could go home. That better not be the same situation in Coeur d'Alene. I expect the finish line to be pretty damn spectacular. If I die at the finish, that's fine, but then St. Peter himself better be there with a choir of angels welcoming me across the timing mat. And they better not be singing "Iron Man".

If "the journey is the reward", that means that Couer d'Alene is the end. It shouldn't work like that. Becoming an Ironman should be a life-changin event. How? Well I think they should give you a card at the finish line. Then, some day when you're at a restaurant and they tell you it's a 45-minute wait for a table, you flash them your card and the matre d' would say "I'm terribly sorry sir, I did not realize you were an Ironman. Right this way, please." Or maybe Delta Airlines could give free class upgrades for Ironman travelers. Little things like that. I think I've earned it.

And so help me, if Mike Reilly doesn't call out my name properly I'm going to shove that microphone down his Ironthroat and pull it out his Irona--... Well let's just say it will be unpleasant for both of us.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Taper, baby!

This weekend was my final big push. I am now officially in taper mode.

I was set to do a 90-mile ride Saturday. To avoid the afternoon heat, I hit the trail at 7:00am and started with a 1200 foot climb up San Gabriel Canyon Road and back down. Around 9:00, I ran into Stuart and Robert who were just starting out their ride. We stayed together for about 20 miles so that was cool. Unfortunately I miscalculated my turn-around point and wound up doing 96 miles. Those extra 6 miles make a big difference at the end.

During a race, you have plenty of support (Gatorade, water, etc.) When we ride along the Pacific Coast Highway, there are gas stations to grab snacks. Along the San Gabriel River Trail however, there is nothing but warm water fountains. We often see guys with coolers standing by the trail looking to sell drinks but I was sure they'd charge outrageous prices. I stopped at one of the warm fountains at mile 90, having finished off my Gatorade bottle many miles earlier. There was one of the cooler guys there, so I figured I'd ask how much for a Gatorade.

Two bucks.

TWO MEASLY DOLLARS? I would have gladly paid 4 dollars. It was ice cold and it was The Yummy. Maybe on hotter days the prices go up, but it was money well spent in my mind.

When I got back to my car, there was a message waiting for me. Apparently Ironmen-In-Training don't have time to wash our cars.

Sunday was the big 20-mile run. I saw the giant plume of black smoke from the fire at Universal Studios, but fortunately the wind blew all the ash and soot away from Griffith Park. I started off the run listening to a podcast of Michael Lovato interviewing a bunch of experts about Ironman pre-race advice. They were going on and on about how for every 350 mg of carbohyrates you want to take in 25 mg of sodium and 3% of your calories should be fat-based or whatever. When I'm on the bike, I'm thinking "That Mountain Dew will really go well with those peanut butter crackers." These so-called "experts" were really starting to stress me out and suck the energy out of me, so after 15 minutes or so I turned them off and listened to some Men Without Hats. Much better.

This next paragraph is for MEN ONLY. Ladies, skip ahead.

OK guys, we all know the deal. We don't like having to wear tri shorts but they're the best shorts for a race. When they fit properly they keep everything in place and can be very comfortable. But you do have to be careful. Around mile 16, I felt a little itch down there. I was alone on the trail, so I reached down to do a little bit of adjusting and YEEEOOOWW! Turns out, when I started running I hadn't pulled up my shorts all the way. So the twins were free to brush back and forth ever so gently against that fuzzy chamois padding. For 16 miles. They weren't happy. And if the twins ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. Once they were secured in position the run went a little better. Let that be a lesson to us all.

OK ladies, you can come back now. I was pretty tired for he last 5 miles but I made it through and actually felt pretty good about the run. I wanted to do an 11-minute pace and I did 10.9. But then I went home and checked my past runs. The 20-mile run I did preparing for the Santa Clarita Marathon? 9.8 minute miles. 18 months of training and I'm over a minute-per-mile SLOWER??!!! I'm not feeling good about that at all. However, this blog helps me put a positive spin on things: check out this entry from that last 20-miler in 2006:

"When it was all over, I was in pain. A lot of pain...I was moaning out loud driving home because my legs were so sore. I don't want to know what my neighbors must think (I'm in condo) after hearing me still moaning as I lowered myself into an ice bath when I got home."

This time, I was tired when I got home (I fell asleep on the couch) but pain? Not really. In fact I went walking around the Glendale malls that afternoon. So I guess that's a pretty good sign. Here's a bad sign: I lost 7 pounds of water this weekend:

Note the ring of dirt around my left angle. That isn't a tan line.