Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Terrible Tuesdays

It's really tough to meet your weekly quotas for training hours. You can't simply push a workout back a day, because tomorrow is already booked with plenty of Tri-silliness. So if you to add one little event to your schedule you really have to fight to get your hours in.

Yesterday I had to run 3 miles. Piece of cake. I also had my first new session with Joe The Trainer. Still doable. But I also wanted to help my Tri Team with our new-merchandise distribution after work. This was going to get tricky.

I had to come into work early to set up for a technology demo, and somehow managed to both cancel the event AND host it anyway. I didn't get to go to lunch until 2:00, at which point I drove to the gym and put in 3 miles on the treadmill. The gym is pretty close, so I was back in the office at 3. (OK, fine, 3:10 so shoot me.)

After work I headed out to our merchandise distribution. I pushed Joe The Trainer back to 8:00, which is way-past dinner time. I didn't want to eat right before our session so I wolfed down a turkey sandwich from 7-Eleven in the car after work on the way to the ABC Building.

I looked in the various conference rooms but couldn't find anybody so I texted Robert:

What room are we in?
For what?
Merchandise sorting
That's next Tuesday.


Turns out I had plenty of time to get my workouts done right after work, but at this point it didn't matter. I had been stressing about my schedule all day for nothing.

And speaking of Joe The Trainer, he is noticeably larger than he used to be. And not in the Oreos-and-m&ms sort of way. So I asked him about it.

Me: "Looks like you got bigger."
JTT: "Dude, I completely changed my workouts. I started doing a ton of cardio and I gained muscle."
Me: "Frak you."

Next Tuesday: same tech demo, same run, same Joe the Trainer... Only this time I really will be throwing merchandise distribution into the mix.

Monday, June 28, 2010

What happened in Kona, stayed in Kona

This is my Ironman Training log:

You'll notice there are no yellow m&ms, representing bike rides. That's because I still don't have a bike.

I thought I would be smart and save money for once by mailing my bike back from Hawaii, rather than using Tri Bike Transport. And I did save over $150. But my bike is still gone. It might still be Kona waiting shipment, it might be on a boat, it might be at the bottom of the ocean. I have no idea. No tracking information is available. The expected delivery was June 21, a week ago. The good news if that my bike just stays in Hawaii, I won't need to worry about sending it back in October; I'll just pick it up when I get there.

I also was supposed to have a Finisher's shirt mailed to me. Hasn't happened yet. So I have two things to be mailed to me from Hawaii and neither has shown up. I know there is bad Taboo about removing items from the island, but I thought it was OK to remove items you brought yourself. (I paid for the T-shirt with me registration, so that counts.)

After 3 weeks, I am officially allowed to file an insurance claim against my missing package from the post office (i.e. my bicycle) but I'm giving it one more week. I misplace things all the time: keys, wallets, phones... a missing bicycle isn't anything to worry about.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A blog post about a swim workout

I don't like organized swim workouts. I am more than happy to just jump in a pool and do laps and be done with it. When I first started doing triathlons I joined one of the Southern California AQuatics masters programs (which shall remain nameless) and the coaches were, well, terrible. They would say "OK, now do 4 laps backstroke, 4 laps sidestroke, and 4 laps freestyle." I'd say "um, I don't know those strokes." "Well just do whatever stroke you know." "Is there a way I could LEARN these other strokes?" "Um, I dunno... I guess you could maybe find a class or something." Useless.

Our Tri Team has coached swim workouts led by Steve. Now there's no denying that Steve is a good swimmer. And he might very well be a good teacher. But I am a terrible swim student. I am uncoordinated, I am easily flustered, and I don't understand the language of swimming: We'll be told "OK, do four by fifties on the fifteens, GO!" And I'm like.... "what?" I'm still trying to wrap my head around the idea that a "lap" is one length of the pool and not a round trip.

But I went to a swim workout anyway, and I was lost from the very start. We were told "beginners will be in the first lanes over there, and we'll we working over here. People here for the workout will be in the middle lanes." This confused me: were there 2 groups of swimmers, or three? After all, weren't we ALL here for the workout? So I put myself in lane 5 of what I thought was Steve's 8 lanes of training, but it turns out I was in lane 1 of some other workout. I still don't understand what that 3rd group was. Steve quickly corrected me by saying "Wedgie, get over here."

We did a lot of kicking. Which wouldn't have been bad, but for parts of the workout we had to count our kicks. We were supposed to do 8 kicks, do a left hand stroke, 8 kicks, a right hand stroke, repeat. Apparently I'm not very good at counting. I guess 8 kicks means left-right-left-right-left-right-left-right-STROKE. For some reason I could only count my left kicks so I was doing 16 kicks per stroke. And then for the next set I would wind up starting off with a right kick which threw everything off. So I pretty much just wound up counting to 10 in my head with no correlation to what my feet were doing whatsoever.

It seems that there is one thing I am good at regarding swimming: I know how to dress. I wear "jammers", which are basically speedos with the leg openings stretched down to your knees. These are the preferred suits for swim workouts. Someone else in the pool was wearing big baggy board shorts, which is probably one step up from wearing cement flippers. Steve thought he'd create his own Goofus and Gallant lesson and had the two of us get out of the pool to show the dos and donts of swimwear. Being paraded around in front of everybody, shirtless, wearing lycra... you can't really come up with a worse nightmare for me.

Oh and yes I'll be going back next week.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Return of Joe The Trainer

Last year I joined a gym and had a trainer named Joe The Trainer. As Ironman Wisconsin got closer, I stopped going to the gym to focus on the bike and run (but not the swim, natch). Then Joe The Trainer quit working there and my membership expired. I rejoined the gym a couple months ago, but it's been tough to get back into the swing of things. It's just hard to be motivated without someone yelling at you.

Well last night I went to the gym and who was there but Joe The Trainer. He's baaaaaaack. First thing he asked me was if I was still doing Ironmans. I told him about the Kona lottery slot and I don't know if he fully understood the implications but he did say it was awesome. I kid you not - he told me I was his "hardest working client" (so suck on THAT, Mrs. Agnes O'Donnelly!) I've told Joe The Trainer many times before that I don't care if he tells his other clients that they're his favorite or whatever, as long as he says it to ME as well. Needless to say I'm bringing him back on the payroll, although I'm a little embarrassed for him to see how much progress I HAVEN'T made in his absence.

Later on in the gym a woman came up to me after seeing my tattoo and asked which Ironman I did. I told her Coeur d'Alene, and she said she thought it mouth have been for Florida because of the killer whale. OK, kudos to her for actually knowing it's a killer whale; I can't believe how many people think it's a dolphin. Has nobody seen Free Willy? When I told her I have a killer whale squeaky horn on my bike, she said "oh, I have the dinosaur horn." Awesome.

She did Coeur d'Alene the same year I did. We commiserated about the freezing cold swim and how we were bother obsessively going online the weeks before to check the current lake temperatures. She told me she was on the Pasadena Tri Team, so of course I asked if she knew Tri Team Tammy. (Anybody who's anybody knows Tri Team Tammy.) Turns out, she borrowed Tammy's squid lid for Coeur d'Alene. It's a small tri world after all.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lessons Learned from Hawaii

The Rohto Cooling Eye Drops Ironman 70.3 Hawaii was a good practice race for the World Championships in October. These are some of the things I learned during the week:

1. The course is doable.
We'll be at a different beach in October, but the water will be just as warm. We rode the same road as the full Ironman, and actually did the hardest part of the full course. And I'm told the run is flatter.

2. Using a bike-transport company is money well-spent.
Taking the bike apart, packing it up, shipping, unpacking, rebuilding, repeat... It was a real pain in the neck.

3. Be sure to eat in the days before the race.
You can only take in so many calories on race day; you need to have some fuel stored in the tank beforehand. I was so concerned about keeping my stomach stable that I may have under-eaten.

4. Be sure not to eat in the months before the race.
These are non-wetsuit races, and I looked like a whale getting out of the water.

5. Get a full-body tan before the race.
A beluga whale.

6. Bring your own snorkel.
There's lots to see underwater (on the days you're not racing) and renting a mask by the hour is the wrong way to go.

7. You do not need nor want race wheels.
I was debating whether or not to use my Flashpoint wheels for the race. I did not, and even with my thin wheels I felt very unstable during some of the stronger gusts of wind. I love my wheels, but the Flashpoints will have to stay home in October. Plenty of other people were using their race wheels, they're just not for me.

8. Skip the drinking.
If you want a good Hawaiian drink, you need to go to Vegas. I didn't see a tacky coconut-umbrella cup anywhere.

9. Go sleeveless.
I think I was the only person in the race wearing a bike jersey; everyone else was in tri-tops. Bike jerseys are hotter and the sleeves cover up the race numbers they stamp on your arms.

10. Reinforce the sign.
I like wearing custom-printed signs pinned to the back of my jersey during races. I switched to a more-waterproof-yet-more-flimsy material for Hawaii, and the sign tore twice. I need to secure it better.

Monday, June 14, 2010


This week marks the official beginning of my Ironman training. I know it's important to keep a training log, so I made this:

For every 15 minutes doing an activity, I'll put an m&m in the Kona Kandy jar.

Swim: Blue (for the water)
Bike: Yellow (for the lane lines)
Run: Green (for the grass in Griffith Park)
Strength: Brown (cause they look like tiny little chocolate weights.

Now I know what you're thinking... Most of my time will be spent on the bike, and most m&ms are brown, so shouldn't it make more sense to use brown for the asphalt on the roads? No. Since there are so few yellow m&ms in a bag, the more I bike, the more bags of m&ms I'll have to buy. Buying m&ms is a good thing.

And no, Reese's Pieces don't count and custom-ordering colored m&ms is cheating.

Ten Cool Things I Did In Hawaii

1. Saw the Kona airport. That may not sound like much, but trust me; it is a silly place.

2. Went snorkeling with sea turtles.

3. Went snorkeling with manta rays. (After a not-TOO-scary boat ride)

4. Saw a raging river of lava from a helicopter.

5. Ziplined 200-feet in the air over waterfalls and tree canopies.

6. Completed a half-Ironman triathlon.

7. Saw about a million stars at night out in the middle of nowhere.

8. Earned a ton of frequent-flyer miles by using my Delta-American Express card. (OK, so that really isn't too cool.)

9. Made some coral graffiti on the beach.

10.Saw evolution in progress as I watched an eel try to crawl out on to dry land.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Complaint Department

Far be it from me to complain (Ha!), but I am always happy to provide constructive feedback when things don't quite fit in with Wedgie's World. Here are a few "issues" I had with the Rohto Cooling Eye Drops Ironman 70.3 Hawaii:

1. Lack of sunscreen. They had sunscreen at the beach, but I'm not too worried about the sun at 7 or 8 o'clock in the morning. It becomes an issue during the run, after we've sweated off the first layer on the bike. I didn't see any sunscreen anywhere along the course. I am told that they it, you just had to ask for it. Here's the problem with that: when you come up to an aid station and you start seeing the ice sponges and water, you're not thinking about getting cancer. All you want is the instant relief of a cold drink. And frankly, I shouldn't have to ask the Cola lady if she can go find me some sunscreen. I'm not saying they needed Lotion Girls in the middle of the lane giving rubdowns, but a simple sign saying "Sunscreen" would at least tell us where we should go.

2. Young volunteers. OK, so this may get me in trouble but hear me out. We love volunteers. They're what make the race possible. It's great to see the community come out to support events like these. It seemed to me that there were a lot of families working the aid stations which is great, but there quite a few 5-6 year olds "helping". At one station, a young boy was handing out sponges - after wringing them out. At several stops there were kids running back and forth playing in the middle of the course not looking where they were going or even noticing there were runners trying to get through. I asked for ice and was handed water. God bless their little hearts, but a 7-8 hour race is not fun for young kids to be helping with and there are frankly some tasks which they're simply not good at.

3. They ran out of T-shirts. This is inexcusable. When you sign up for the race, you tell them what size T-shirt you want. The computer knows EXACTLY how many shirts to order. I finished the race, and went over to a tent to pick up my medal and finisher's shirt. They looked up my name, saw that I signed up for a medium, and told me "sorry, we only have extra large shirts left." It's very simple to prevent this problem: when someone comes over and says "I know I registered for a large, but can I get a medium instead?" You tell them "Sorry, but we have a limited number of shirts. Take the large now, and if you come back after the race closes I'd be happy to swap it if we have any mediums left over." That's all it takes. They will be mailing me a medium shirt, but that's not the point. I don't want to wear my shirt a week from now, I wanted to wear it after the race like the hundreds of other people were doing.

These are rookie mistakes that an Ironman-branded race should not be making.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Excuses, Excuses

The Hawaii 70.3 was the worst performance of any race that I can remember. I'm not just talking about age-group rankings (although this was pretty much bottom-of-the-barrel), I mean my actual time vs. what I should have done. I'm usually pretty good at predicting my finishing times but I was way off with this race.

I can come up with three main reasons:

1. I was undertrained. I'm actually OK with this, because I knew I was undertrained  and in fact I PLANNED on being undertrained. I spent 2008 training for Coeur d'Alene, 2009 training for Wisconsin, and 2010 was supposed to be a relaxing year. Even after I won the lottery slot, I didn't want to burn myself out by starting hard training too early. Hawaii 70.3 was supposed to be the kick-off for the October race, and so I only did base-training up until now.

2. I may have been undernourished. If I didn't do enough training, that still doesn't explain why my bike was bad from the start. The bike course was easier than many of the Saturday rides we've been doing, so if anything I should have started out strong and then conked out in the middle. I do know that in the days leading up to the race I was very concerned about making sure my stomach was settled and I think I may have under-ate. I can't say I felt tired during the race, but something was obviously wrong.

3. Mentally, I was racing the full Ironman. The weight of October's race was bearing down on me all week. Maybe I was just overly attuned to it, but I was hearing people discuss the World Championships everywhere. And although I absolutely believe I deserve my lottery slot, I was feeling a bit intimidated listening to everyone talk about where they "earned" their qualifying slots.

During the swim, I wasn't thinking "OK, you're almost finished." I was thinking "In October, you'll be halfway done." I wasn't thinking about how much energy I would need to climb the big hill on the bike, I was thinking about how much farther I will have already ridden by the time I started the hill. On the run, I wasn't counting the miles down from 13.1, I was counting down from 26.2.

There were many times when I was thinking to myself that I didn't want to race in October. I didn't want to give up my summer for training. I'm a pretty pragmatic person so even then I was aware that in another week I'd feel differently, but out there on the course I was actually upset that I won the lottery slot and would have to do the full race.

I can't say that this was a good practice race for October because it was more of a confidence-smasher than a booster (mostly due to the above factors unrelated to the race itself.). But I am glad that I now have a good sense of the lay-of-the-land and got a taste of some of the conditions we might face in October.

The adventure begins.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Rohto Cooling Eye Drops Death March race report

aka Ironman 70.3 Hawaii

Well, it wasn't a great race but I finished.

I slept surprisingly well the night before. I was probably asleep by 10:30, I only woke up once at 1:30, then woke up at 4:15. I fIght the 5:15 shuttle to the starting area and was in Transition around 5:30 so all of that ran very smoothly.

The race director (who is also the local weatherman) promised us a calm smooth swim on race day but it was very windy. People kept saying "it's just windy because the sun is coming up. It'll calm down soon." Well I saw the sun come up and the wind kept blowing so these people definitely didn't know what they were talking about.

I went through the port-a-potty lines three times. They were very quick and easy.

The Swim

This race is pretty unique for its distance because the swim is a mass start; most non-full-Ironman races have wave starts based upon the age groups. The starting line for the swim was perpendicular to the shore, but you could choose to stay on land, wade out a bit in the water, or do a full deep-water start. I think the deep-water start is a great way to stretch out and relax before the race so that's where I was. 

The start was a little awkward; the race announcer kept telling people to make sure they didn't drift forward of the starting line. He kept saying "swimmers, get back behind the line... Get back... Back behind the line..." and then the canon went off. No countdown, no "on your mark...", just all of the sudden "oh, I guess we're racing now."

There was the usual kicking and punching and grabbing associated with a mass start but I held my ground pretty well. In spite of the wind, the water seemed pretty calm to me. There were a few swells here and there, but the practice swim the day before was much worse. Normally, I am terrible at swimming a straight line but since I could alway see the ocean floor I could use that to sight. It was probably the straightest open-water swim I've ever done.

Normally, the beginning of the swim is pretty violent but things thin out near the end. I don't know what happened, but I got caught in the middle of a group for the last quarter-mile or so and was banging into everybody. I couldn't pull in front of them, I wasn't about to slow down to let them get ahead, so I just fought my way to the bitter end.

I felt pretty good about the swim. I kept a steady pace and was not tiring out yet (which I guess means I wasn't working hard enough.) I was expecting a 45-minute swim, and came out of the water thinking I might have done 40. I was surprised to see the race clock say 49:00. Not really disappointed, just surprised.


The transition area is a little unique. Like the full Ironman, you are given a race bag to put all of your gear into. But like shorter races, you are given your own personal transition area. Here's the catch: you're not allowed to have anything on the ground next to your bike. So you either had to hang stuff off your bike or keep everything in the bag. It was a little awkward and as a result I forgot to put body glide on my feet. That would cost me later.

I made a "Thank you Ironman Lottery" sign which I had pinned to my bike jersey, but it tore off as I was pulling it out of the bag so I had to re-pin it. That was a dumb waste of time on my part. There was a long uphill run from the beach to the bikes, so I'm not too worried about my 8+ minute T1 time.

The Bike

I knew within the first 5 miles that something was off with my bike race. Here's the thing: in any triathlon, the swim is my worst leg and the bike is my best leg. So I'm towards the end of the people coming out of the water but then I make up a lot of ground passing people left and right on the bike (well, on the left anyway.) This time, I wasn't passing a lot of people. Was I simply really far behind after the swim? Was this just a much stronger field? I started comparing the terrain and conditions to some of our training rides: the winds had calmed down, we hadn't hit any hills yet, fairly cool temps... nope, the problem was me, I should have been going much faster.

I skipped the port-a-potties going through T1, and I thought I could feel my lottery sign flopping a little too much against my back so I pulled over at the rest stop around mile 20. I did my business, then asked one of the volunteers if she could fix my sign. She replied "what sign? There's nothing here." So somewhere along the Queen K highway there's a neoprenewedgie sign blowing in the wind. It made me sad that I wouldn't have it during the run, because I think it would have been a nice conversation-starter as people were passing me.

Speaking of wind, the Hawaii Ironman is famous for its difficult winds and I've seen plenty of footage of riders leaning at 45 degrees against the crosswinds. I don't think we were that far slanted, but I definitely found myself leaning pretty far over in order to stay balanced. The problem wasn't so much leaning into the wind, but when the wind suddenly stopped and you had to straighten up quickly - now THAT'S when I was most unstable.

There's a steady 5-mile climb up to mile 30 which was slow but I can't really say it was a bad climb. And the turn-around was right at the top of the hill so you immediately went from sub-10 mph to 30+ mph.

Overall the scenery on the bike was neither good nor bad, it was just kind of "there". Oh sure, if you drove out in your air-conditioned car and then pulled over for a picnic the views would be stunning. But on the bike it just didn't seem to matter much. You just sort of get numb to it after a bit. We ran into the race director for the full Ironman after the race, and he told us that the course we did today was the hardest part of the 140.6 course. But the rest of the full Ironman is on the really long and boring lava fields so that may be a problem in October.


Nothing happened. Dropped off my bike, put on my sneakers and went. I forgot to put body glide on my feet in T1, and forgot again in T2.

The Run

Much of the run was through an immaculately groomed golf course. We didn't even stay on the paved paths; there were little flags marking trails across the grass. Many people didn't like running on the grass but I do 90% of my running on horse trails in Griffith Park so I loved running on the soft ground. There were a few very steep climbs through the golf course, but they were short and manageable.

When we weren't on the golf course, we were running along the roads around the resort. There were many out-and-back segments so were able to see new friends and old throughout the run. One of my new buddies was this crazy 79-year old German dude. He came up behind me around mile 5 and just threw his arms around my shoulders. At first I thought he mistook me for someone else, but no, he was just really friendly. Out of the blue he just asked me if I knew what "halbstarke" meant. I did not. Apparently it means "half strong" and apparently that's how he felt. I asked him what the German phrase for "quarter strong" meant because that's how I felt. We passed each other back and forth a few times for the rest of the race, doing a bit of chatting each time.

The absolute low point of the entire race probably came to me at mile marker 7. By this point I was already doing a walk-a-mile, run-a-mile, walk-a-mile pattern, with the walking miles a tad longer than the running miles. I walked from mile 6 to mile 7. Mile 7 is a significant point in a half-marathon, because the you can tell yourself "all I have left is a 10k". It's a very well-known, concrete distance to wrap your head around. But when I came to mile 7, it hit me: if this was October, I would have NINETEEN miles left to go. That concept was inconceivable to me. There was no way I could do another 19 miles. Even though I only had 6 miles to go, I was focusing on the 19.

We had been warned about a 3-mile section of the course called "the road to hell". It's a straight 1.5 miles out and then back along what felt like an old abandoned road. No shade, no scenery, just death everywhere around you. And yet, it turned out to be one of the strongest sections of my run. There is a downhill slope on the way out so that recharged the batteries a bit. But the odd thing is that I ran the entire UPHILL road on the way back. I think I got a bit of a psychological boost because I crossed the 10-mile mark at the bottom of the hill.

I stopped several times during the run to shake the rocks out of my shoe which were really bothering me. I couldn't figure out how they kept getting in. Turns out, they weren't rocks but blisters on my feet which felt like rocks. Remember how I forgot to put Body Glide on my feet? This was the result.

After almost 8 hours of racing I crossed the finish line, not very happy with the day. Basically, I never got into the "race zone" and felt like I was just going through the motions all day. But I DID beat the crazy 79-year-old German.  


Friday, June 04, 2010

The storm before the storm

Today I joined the crazy people for the 7am swim along the race course. Because I'm essentially still on L.A. time it didn't feel too early.

I've been to other races where the swim course looks very daunting the first time you see the buoys in the water. I didn't feel that way at all this time. The course looked very doable. The only thing i noticed is that the buoys looked pretty far put from shore; that's a little creepy because if you have a problem, it's a long way back to dry land.

The first part of the swim was pretty cool. I can not stress enough just how clear the water is. I'm not sure how deep it got - 30 feet? 50 feet? - but there was never a time when I couldn't see the bottom. In L.A. we're lucky if we can see more than 5 feet below us.

Unfortunately, the water became pretty choppy along the far side of the course. With every stroke I was being lifted up in the air and then dropped back down again. I drank a fair amount of salt water, and much of that was the really gross way where you drink it through your nose. I was not enjoying the swim, and although I wasn't nervous about the swim beforehand, now I was.

Well maybe things would look brighter on the bike. That afternoon, we had to ride our bikes 7 miles from the hotel to the race start (it's a point-to-point race, ending back at the hotel.) The wind was intense. There were a few gusts that nearly blew me off the shoulder. And it was a HOT wind, like the waft you get when you open up an open to check on your batch of freshly baled chocolate chip cookies. Only without the smell.

When we got to the transition area there was a small registration canopy to check in your bike. We watched half of the tent essentially flip upside down from the wind - that didn't really help calm us for the race. The other big issue was the sun. I rode my bike there and then had to drop off my helmet with my bike. I had no hat, there was no shade, and it was actually a bit painful feeling the sun just beating down on my forehead. We had arranged to have cars drive us back to the hotel but I couldn't stand being outside waiting for anyone so I just jumped on a hotel shuttle in the parking lot. I had to wait about 15 minutes for it to leave but it was shaded and air conditioned and I was perfectly happy sitting there.

So, today I experienced rough ocean water, strong winds, and intense heat. Sounds like it should be a great race.    

Sea Turtles Know They're Cool

I wanted to do some swimming so I went down to the beach, thinking i would do a few laps back and forth parallel to the shore. After 5 years of ocean swimming in Los Angeles, I was really looking forward to the bath tub conditions in Hawaii we've heard so much about. My first reaction? BRRRRRRRRR! It was cold! OK, the water was probably 10-15 degrees warmer than Zuma, but I was expecting a "zero-shock" entry. When the water splashed up against your tummy, it woke you up a bit. After a minute or two, it was fine.

It was like swimming in an aquarium. The water was crystal clear, and all those dish that you see in your local aquarium store were swimming right underneath me. Basically, the entire cast of Finding Nemo was there (minus the shark). 

I went out a little farther and saw a couple of sea turtles. They must have been three feet long. One of them swam up to the surface, poked his head up right in front of me and kept on swimming. I hung out with him a bit and he couldn't care less. He was just chilling out in the water. There are strict laws about not touching the sea turtles, but dude... he was RIGHT THERE. So I reached out and gently patted his shell. I want to stress that I didn't have to try to catch up to him or anything; he was just right there. Frankly, if I didn't reach out to pet him I think he would have come over and touched me so don't get all PETA on me. It was just very very cool.

Unfortunately, I completely blew off my actual swim workout. Why would I want to "exercise" when I could just hang with sea turtles?    

The Broken Bike

I got a phone call at 6:30 this morning from someone who didn't know I was on Hawaii time. Swell. Around 7:00 I wandered out to the hotel lobby to get my bike out of storage and ran into the gang heading out for their early morning swim. Was not even tempted to join them.

I brought my bike back to my room and started reassembling it. But for some reason I just  get the war wheel back on. I am not a good mechanic at all, but I can still usually put a wheel on a bike. After 45 minutes of struggling with my bike, my hands were covered in grease, my chain was in knots and my wheel was still sitting on the floor. I was getting nervous and frustrated- what if I get a flat during the race? Am I going to be stuck on the side of the road for an hour struggling with my bike?

I gave up and brought my bike into the shop they have set up right in the hotel. They took a quick look at it and told me I had a broken dérailleur. That made me feel a little bit better, because it meant that the problem was with my bike and not my mechanical skills. They told me they thought they could get a replacement later in the afternoon. I was a little worried about how much this was going to cost me, but there was nothing I could to.

I went back a few hours later and they had good news for me: turns out my dérailleur was not broken, just out of whack somehow and they fixed it for me. Twenty-one dollars. Fantastic. But the big question remained, what exactly was wrong with my bike in the first place? I am absolutely positive it was some sort of human error on my part. I may have twisted something while packing up my bike or, more likely, I banged the dérailleur while trying to put on the wheel. Either way, my bike seems to be OK now. 

Thursday, June 03, 2010


I'm in Hawaii!

The Rohto Cooling Eye Drops Ironman 70.3 Hawaii is on Saturday and there are about 20 people from the tri team doing the race. I grew up in New Jersey, and going to Hawaii was unheard of. It was on the other side of the planet. It was much easier for people to go to Europe than Hawaii, so it was just something people didn't do. At least not my people. But living in Los Angeles, Hawaii is a lot more accessible and I cant believe I am actually here.

First impression: I can't feel the humidity at all. Last week I was in North Carolina where the humidity really hit me, but there are some nice breezes keeping things comfortable here. At least for now. 

Kona airport is weird. We took stairs off the plane on to the tarmac and walked towards some hut-looking buildings, but we never actually went "inside." Everything is just in the open air. I kept wondering to myself "am I in an airport or not?" A far cry from LAX.

I took a 30-minute cab ride to the hotel and saw all the lava fields that I've seen so many times watching the Ironman DVDs. They are enormous and very cool to watch sitting in a car at 60mph; it seems like it will be a deathly boring bike ride though.

The hotel is right out of a movie: the lobby overlooks the pool with the ocean right behind it. There are koi ponds and tiki torches and huge exotic flowers everywhere. But in the interest of full-disclosure, I'm not thrilled with the room. For starters, it is FREEZING. The rooms have no heat; they have a "cool-only" system and the staff must have had it on full blast awaiting my arrival. The system has been off for several hours and it's still cool. The marble floors don't help. There are no curtains or drapes on the windows. Instead, I have slatted doors which mean the room will get pretty bright pretty early. I'm not looking forward to that. As far as individual rooms are concerned, I have to say that The Coeur d'Alene still stays top on my list. Man I loved that hotel. (And yes, the name of the hotel where I did my first Ironman is "The Coeur d'Alene".

There is a food market about a mile from the hotel, so we did a short trip to stock up our in-room refrigerators. We saw many other triathletes stocking up on bananas, and yogurt, and weird grain products. This is what I came back with:


They say you shouldn't change anything right before a race, so it's Mountain Dew and Little Debbie snacks for me.

I am starting to get the feeling that I'm in the wrong racing group. There was a big discussion about what time we should go for a swim tomorrow morning. I would definitely like to get into the water, so I was thinking maybe around 9 or 10 we'd walk the 100 yards to the beach. No. My group wanted to meet at 6:00 am (that's six o-clock in the morning) so they could drive over to the official course to be swimming by 7:00 and simulate race-day conditions. Are these people crazy? We're in Hawaii! Why on earth would we be setting our alarms for anything with a single digit? They finally pushed the meeting time back to 7:00. Needless to say, I still will not be joining them.

I also showed my hand a bit with a Freudian slip. We were talking about the potential of having good weather on race day, and said "I think I should be OK up until about mile 6 of the walk... I mean run. Mile 6 of the run." Yeah, I do not have high expectations for any half-marathon PRs this weekend.

Funny side story:
During dinner, Heather was sharing stories of her childhood growing up in the bayous of Louisiana and how dangerous the waterways were. She told us they were warned as kids, if you're skiing and you hit something, DO NOT LET GO. Chances are you hit an alligator who just poked his head up. Creepy. Lenny, God bless him, then asked "alligators in the snow?" You had to be there.