Friday, October 29, 2010

Kona Race Report: T1

Typically I'm not very fast in transition, but I made a concerted effort to improve for Ironman. The biggest thing I did was simplify: I decided 2 months ago nit to wear gloves (thanks, Gary). I would wait until I was on my bike to drink. I wouldn't put on sunscreen. All of these little things add up so I got rid of them.

One thing I did not give up was my headsweats bandana thin gee. I have very little natural sun protection on my head (ie hair) so the headsweats is a must. But somehow it got turned inside-out in my transition bag and for the life of me I couldn't figure out how to out it on. First I put It on backwards, then upside down. I probably lost 20 additional seconds working out that puzzle.

My biggest time sink in transition is that I like to pee in T1. I refuse to pee in the water or while moving on the bike. And although I wanted a good T1 time, I knew it would be better to go now than have to stop during the bike. So I lost probably a minute there, but that's non-negotiable.

5:58 T1 time. Respectable enough.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Kona Race Report: The Swim

Photo credit: Scary Gary

The tone of the swim was set Thursday night at the race meeting. The race director was telling us how important it was to position ourselves correctly for the start: "Some of you who are slower swimmers, around an hour or so, are going to want to seed yourselves toward the back."

One Hour is a "slow" swimmer.

At that rate, I figured I should position myself in the tub in my hotel room for the start.

I was surprised how much dilly-dallying there was getting into the water. It's a water start with a very narrow, slippery staircase bringing people into the water and at 6:55 I was still stuck in the mob very much on dry land. Once I did get in the ocean, I had planned on staying way in the back but there LOTS of cowards just standing in 6 inches of water. So I swam up to the back of the main pack and waited for the start.

I really think I was more excited than nervous. There were helicopters overhead, a hula dancer on the dock, and the race announcer kept yelling that this was the "2010 Ironman World Championship!" There was lots of excitement in the air. But then I remember when I got a chill: after all the hype of the announcer screaming about what an exciting day it was going to be, he suddenly very calmly said "have a great race everybody." His calmness made it personal. Wow. I was actually HERE! I was racing in the biggest, most famous triathlon in the world. Holy Crap! Then the cannon went off.

This was not the typical washing machine Ironman for me. Oh, I still got grabbed and kicked, and still did grabbing and kicking of my own, but I had a fair amount of room because of my position near the back at the start.

I don't know how deep the water got, I've heard around 50-75 feet, but I could always see the bottom. Crystal clear. For the first half mile or so I saw plenty of fish, surprised that they weren't frightened away by all the churning of the water. I was briefly freaked out when I looked down and saw this black six-foot-long creature swim underneath me. Turns out it was just scuba diver with a video camera, but it sure got my heartbeat going.

This was my first time doing a single-loop Ironman swim, so it was a long 1.2 miles out from shore. I tried to keep my eyes on the boat where we did the turn-around waaaaaayyyyyy out there, but there were just enough swells in the ocean to make it difficult. The boat slowly got closer, and I remember thinking that I've seen the boat a dozen times on the Ironman DVDs and it looked much smaller in person. Of course, once I got to the boat I saw the REAL turn-around boat several hundred yards behind it. Great.

I often speak about how much I love my swim goggles. The only problem is that I have to trim my eyelashes before the race so they don't brush up against the lenses. (I spared Stupid Dutch this time and had my barber do it.) Unfortunately, my goggles were showing their age and were pretty scratched up. So about a month ago, I bought a new pair. Same make, same model. And they felt great, except that for some reason they tend to slip. I tried loosening them, tightening them, everything but wearing them upside down. They slip.

I brought both my old and new goggles to Kona, and for some inexplicable reason I decided to stick with my new ones. The water was going to be clean and I wanted to experience it clearly. Besides, if I could get the goggles positioned properly at the start, what are the chances that they would slip in the middle of an Ironman in choppy seas?

Well I'm a moron. They were sliding all over the place. Really badly. I am not exaggerating here: for extended parts of the swim my EYELIDS were pressed against the lenses. I could hear Steve's voice in my head: "Point your toes! Watch your head position!" And I was thinking "I can't open my right eye because it's jammed against my goggles. My toes are the least of my worries." But mostly I just sucked it up. I think I stopped about 4 times to adjust them, which may sound like 4 times too many but truthfully I don't think it really affected my overall swim that much.

The currents were a little strong when we got back close to shore which was frustrating. I was so close to finishing yet it felt like I wasn't moving at all. But it felt SOOOO good getting out of the water. I forgot how dizzy I get after long swims and I kind of tripped up the stairs a bit and a volunteer kind of caught me, but I was fine.

Swim time 1:34:22. A couple minutes slower than Wisconsin, but in a non-wetsuit, riptide-spewing shark-infested ocean. I was very happy with my swim. And yes, Steve's classes helped.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Kona Race Report: Pre-race

Independent observers confirm that I was surprisingly calm the morning of the race. Mostly.

I woke up around 3:45 after getting about 2 hours sleep (as expected.) The hotel was adjacent to the transition area, which was FANTASTIC. I was able to drop off my Special Foods bags, go to body marking, pump up my bike tires, and then go back to my hotel room after. The only issue I had was that I exited the hotel through the wrong door and wound up going through all the stages backwards, against the flow of people. At one point they wouldn't let me go down a path the wrong way so I had to climb through some bushes to get back on track. No biggie.

They made a HUGE deal about not putting sunblock on your arms because it would interfere with bodymarking. Fine. I got inked with unprotected skin. They use crisp stamps to mark the numbers, and then do some touch-up work with a Sharpie but it still looked a little flakey to me. I was well-prepared and brought my own Sharpie with me, so when Team Wedgie showed up around 6am I had them fill in some of the gaps. By this point it had been over an hour since my original numbers had been stamped on so I assumed it was safe to apply sunscreen to my arms.

I admit I don't use sunscreen often enough, but when I do use it I put it on THICK. So I sprayed on a heavy layer of Panama Jack Surf 'N Sport, Continous Clear Spray Sunscreen, SPF 50+ (I can't find it in stores in L.A. and I ordered it online for Hawaii because I like it to much.) About 5 seconds later I looked down in horror as I watched thick streams of black ink run all down my arms.

I'm not sure if the fresh Sharpie ink was running or if some chemical in the sunscreen started stripping off the letters but my arms were a MESS. Fortunately, some fast action (and handy kleenex) from Teresa Annie and Stephanie saved the day. They were able to a fantastic clean-up job with my race numbers.

Naturally I wanted to go to the bathroom again, so I was able to simply run back up to my room. Amazing. Later we ran into British Stuart who was waiting in a long line to use the hotel lobby restrooms, so we just sent him (and apparently his entire tri-team) up to my room as well. I never had to use the port-a-potties before the race. The only person it didn't work out for was poor Scott, who wanted to use my bathroom but wound up taking the wrong elevator bank and never found my room. As far as I know he's still holding it to this day.

Check out just part of the Team Wedgie support crew. And make special note of the AWESOME Mountain Dew pants that Craig and Jana gave me. Correction - the pants that CRAIG gave me - Jana has disavowed any association with the pants (as have most people who have seen them.) But they're still awesome.

Friday, October 15, 2010


(** Note: I wrote this post several days before the race, but my hotel had terrible WiFi and I couldn't post it. **)

So many racers will say "well I just want to finish the race, the time doesn't really matter." Blah blah blah. I think it's ridiculous not to have a goal in mind, or at least an estimate as to when you're going to finish. If nothing else, it makes things easier on the spectators so they'll know when to look for you.

As for me, I'm shooting to finish Kona in 14:27. Why? Because I did Wisconsin in 14:28. (Coeur d'Alene was 14:45.) It would be sweet to PR in Hawaii. Now I know that people generally feel "ohhhhh Wedgie... Kona is hot and humid and windy. It's not really the kind of race conditions to worry about a PR." But my feeling is that it's the World Championships, and you might as well go big or go home.

Honestly? 14:27 will be tough, but this is how it would happen:

The swim is a huge wildcard. I've never swam more than 1.2 miles in the ocean. And all of my open water ocean/lake swimming has been done in a wetsuit. So I really have trouble estimating what my time will be here. My other Ironman times are 1:39 and 1:33, so I think I might be right around there. I believe my swimming has improved, but the currents and swells could be rough. So it's a wash, so to speak. Let's say 1:40. 1:30 is incredible, 1:50 is not so good. (** Actual swim time 1:34:22 **)

No wetsuit, no bike gloves, smaller transition area... I'd like to have a combined T1/T2 time under 10 minutes. That isn't fast by any means, but it's how I roll. Besides, I like peeing in transition. (** Total transition time 8:46 **)

The bike will be interesting. Let's forget about the winds for a moment: I think I could do a 6:30. But if I do 6:30, I will pay for it on the run. So I would like to do the bike in 7 hours. This would be my slowest Ironman bike time, but I think it's the smarter move.

Unfortunately, we can't forget about the winds. I know that everyone hates the wind but it really REALLY gets to me. Honestly, I am OK with long climbs and I don't have a problem with heat. But wind is Kryptonite to me. It makes me give up emotionally. I just have to hope for no wind or, more likely, hope that I can ride smartly into the wind. In other words, don't try to maintain the same pace into the headwinds and conserve energy instead. (** Bike time 6:51:01 **)

No matter what happens, I really want to have a good run. My run fell apart in Coeur d'Alene and I did 6 hours. My run fell apart in Wisconsin and I did 6 hours. I don't care if I cross the finish line at midnight, I want to do 5:30 in the run. (FYI: because of time cut-offs, the slowest run you can have with a 17-hour finish is 6:30. But you know what I mean.)

I definitely put a lot more effort into my run training than the swim or the bike. I did a lot more mileage. I worked on my pacing. And I always, always ran in the heat. If I have another 6-hour marathon, I'll be disappointed. (I'll still be very very happy at the finish line, no need to worry about that!) (** Run time 5:26:45 **)

So that puts me finishing around 14:20 and gives me a few extra minutes in the swim if I need them. And it's still very possible that the winds or other factors could give me a 7:30 bike. I'll adjust my race strategy during the course and see what happens. But I am going into the race with the idea of getting a PR.

Oh and 14 hours would be a wet dream for me.

(** I should have been more specific. What I meant was that BEATING 14 hours would be a wet dream, i.e. 13:59:59. My final time was 14:00:51, so I didn't have to wet myself. **)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Seeing Mom

A series of photos of me in the finisher chute, when I saw my mother for the first time. (She didn't tell me she was flying in from New Jersey to watch the race.) With my head spun around, I'm amazed I didn't trip and fall down right there.

Kona, Day 4: The Meltdown

The day before the Ironman. All the training is over. Nothing more to do. A day to relax and simply enjoy the moment. Yeah, that ain't happening.

I had a little bit of a meltdown during lunch. I had been up since 5, and by 10:30 I was very hungry and ready for lunch. The hotel restaurant didn't open until 11, so I sat by the pool adjacent to the restaurant and waited for them. They had a simple but nice breakfast buffet and was hoping for something similar for lunch.

11:00 came and I dashed inside. They gave me their menu, and I was horrified: no buffet. Just seafood platters and Prime rib sandwiches and all sorts of things that I just wouldn't eat. I just wanted a plain turkey sandwich. So I got up and left. Steve and Laura caught me as I walking out and i just started babbling about how I couldn't eat there. I realize that the obvious solution may seem to be "go somewhere else" but I pretty much knew I would not be getting the lunch I wanted. (which, by the way, is my own fault because I left my pre-planned sandwich fixings back at the condo.) And I was freaking out about it.

We went to a restaurant across the street from the hotel and the menu had a turkey melt sandwich. I figured I would try to turn that into a plain turkey sandwich, but I would have had a better chance of beating Craig Alexander tomorrow than to get the correct meal.

This is what I wanted: white bread. Turkey. Butter. Nothing else. I tried to explain this to the waitress, but I was completely frazzled to begin with and, God bless her little heart, she wasn't exactly Waitress of the Year. The turkey melt was listed as being served on wheat, and everything fell apart when I tried to question it.

"What kind of bread do you have?"
"It comes on sourdough."
"Do you have white?"
"I don't think so."
"Sourdough is OK, but white would be better. And I thought the sandwich came on wheat, which I'd rather not have."
"No, it comes on sourdough."
"Well the menu says wheat."
"It does? Well I think it's sourdough. Or maybe wheat."

I was trying to explain to her what I wanted, and she didn't seem to even know what my options were, which just got me more flustered. I literally had tears in my eyes trying to order a simple sandwich. She realized I was a basket case and asked me "do you need me to bring you a shot?" I told her "yes, but you better not."

She came with some kind of sandwich on some kind of bread which I couldn't identify. And yes, ultimately it didn't really matter but man did it seem huge at the time.

During lunch, we watched the athletes dropping off their bikes and I didn't think much about it. But then I went back down around 3 and it was an entirely different experience. The street was packed with people, and there were crowds lined up along the bike entrance chute just to watch people drop off their bikes. I had to walk through the crowd and then into the "athletes only" chute and I realized for the upteenth time "this is a really big deal."

I thought I would be OK if I could just make it through the chute, because then I would be alone with my bike. But no. Instead, you're given a personal escort who literally walks you through the entire transition process. We took the same paths I'll be taking tomorrow, and she was explaining everything. I was just trying not to  burst into tears. I can't really explain it, but I was just overwhelmed by the magnitude of everything. For starters, it's a freaking Ironman. And it's the World Championship. And I had 10 friends who would be watching me in Kona. Plus a ton of people tracking me online back in L.A. Friends from high school who barely even knew what a triathlon was would be following me. It was just too much.

My mental breakdown was complete when I got back to the hotel. I was literally hyperventilating and sobbing in the room for no good reason. We had plans to eat dinner back in the condo, and I texted IronmAnnie "Normally I don't drink before a race but I need some wine to take the edge off. Make sure we have some!"

Well I don't know if it was the wine or the food or just being around friends, but I calmed down tremendously during dinner. I went back to the hotel, and basically got about 3 hours of sleep.      

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Full race reports coming soon, but I have to start with a story from the end of the race.

A couple years ago, when I was still new to triathlon, I did the New York City Olympic Triathlon. My mother lives in Jersey and she came out to watch the race. My mother is very emotional and easily excited, and after the race she told me she didn't think she could handle the excitement of watching another race.

She did not come to Coeur d'Alene, but was a nervous wreck all day long. When I told her I was doing Wisconsin, she told me "don't even tell me when it is. Just call me when it's over and tell me all about. I don't want to have to go through another day of worrying like last time." And I told here "that's fine, but if I ever make it to Hawaii you'll have to come out for that!"

When I won the lottery slot, we briefly talked about having her come out. But after I did the Hawaii half-Iron in June I uninvited her. Spectating an Ironman is hard work. There's a lot running around and a bunch of sitting in the sun, waiting. And after experiencing the heat and humidity of Hawaii, I knew there was no way she could handle it. All of that excitement in the hot sun? She'd be taken away in an ambulance from heat stroke for sure. I told her to stay home.

So, after doing about 140.5 miles of the race and entering the finishing chute, I saw the Wedgie Support Crew cheering me on. And there with them was my mom. As I ran by, I swear my head turned back 180 degrees trying to make sure it was really her.

The funny thing is that she was with the Support Crew watching the race all day and I never saw her. I would see my friends, and apparently my mother would be there essentially hiding in the bushes as I went by. Sneaky mom. After the race, I "yelled" at her for coming out since she couldn't handle the heat and stress. But then she was the one to put the finisher medal around my neck, which was very cool.

I love my Mom! 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Kona: Done!

Quick Summary:

I finished! Well actually I more than finished: 14:00:51. That beats my previous Ironman PR by about 27 minutes.

Swim was long, had some goggle issues.
Everything they say about the Kona winds is true.
Had some big trouble in the middle of the run, managed a great recovery.
Really bad sunburn.

It was a helluva day.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Kona, Day 3 (Thursday)

Today was a busy busy day.

I wanted to get a swim out of the way, so I woke up at 5:15 to head down to the water. Of course, when I got up it was still pitch black outside. I'm not a morning person, so i forgot that there was a part of the day BEFORE the sun came up.

I had to kill time for a while, then finally went to the beach around 6:15. I expected there to be lots of people training, but there were only THREE PEOPLE in the water. There were a few people milling about on shore, but nobody was getting wet. I was swimmer number four. I guess most of these so-called "champions" would rather just sleep in all day.

After the swim I had to get over to the Underpants Run. I'll post a full race report, but be warned: THERE WILL BE A PHOTO.

I then did a one-hour bike ride along the Queen K highway. This section of the road doesn't have the famous winds, so it was a somewhat pleasant ride. The bike was making my ankle pop again, as it has been doing for the past two weeks. I am still concerned about doing a long ride on it.

Packet pick-up was quick and easy, and then I went down to the Ironman Village. This was a little weird, because the actual official village seemed smaller than other races. There wasn't a lot to see or do there. Of course, this being Kona, the entire town is branded with Ironman sponsors so you can pick up lots of free stuff just walking up and down the street.

We did do one thing at the village. Or rather, Steve did at the Endless Pool booth. Some former masters swim champion lady was giving pointers on people's technique and she invited Steve to give it a try. Steve came up with lots of excuses: "I'm not wearing a suit." "We've got one." "I don't have a towel." "We've got one." I think what finally broke him down was when he said "I've been swimming my whole life" and she said. "Well then you're perfect for this because so many people think they know how to swim but they're stuck with a lot of bad habits."

Steve got served! Oh, it was on, baby.

He hopped in the pool and would swim for a bit, then the masters lady would point out ways he could improve. I rather enjoyed that. Something about pointing his fingers and not sweeping under his body. But to be fair, while he was swimming she was mentioning to the other reps that Steve had a beautiful stroke and good bodyline. So maybe Steve really dies know what he's talking about. Or as Steve pointed out, maybe this lady was hoping to sell some coaching services and wanted to suck up to the swim coach of the Disney Tri Team.

Either way, it was a good excuse for Steve to cool off from the heat.   

Kona Day 2 (Wednesday)

Kona Day 2 (Wednesday)

I went for a practice swim along the course today. They had about 7 or 8 buoys set up marking the course, separated by a couple hundred yards leading out of the harbor area. They extend a decent distance from the beach, but it didn't look too bad. But then, if you squint your eyes and look way way way out on the horizon, you can see this teeny-tiny spec of orange floating in the water. That is the actual turn-around point. This is my first single-loop Ironman, and I've never seen a buoy so far away before.

There is a pretty strong cross-current when you are close to shore. We have to deal with currents all the time in L.A., but because you can hardly see anything you don't really get a good sense as to how much you're being pulled. Here, the water is perfectly clear and so I could watch the bottom scrolling sideways underneath me. It's a little dizzying.

The water was a little choppy, but overall I cant say it was a bad swim.

Our travel company (Endurance Sports Travel) took us on a driving tour of the bike route. This stressed me out. I already rode half the course back in June when we did the Hawaii half-iron so there were no surprises, but the tour ate up about 4 hours of the day and there were other things I needed to be doing.

The bike turn-around is in the little town of Hawi. It really has the look and feel of an old western town, not a 7-Eleven in sight. We stopped for lunch at a... Deli? It was a shop that looked like an old wooden storage room with a counter in front. The owner was very excited for us to try the freshly made banana-mango jam, or something like that. I threw up a little in my mouth just hearing about it. I said "no thank you" but they they kept insisting. "oh, you HAVE to try it! It's delicious!" "no, I'm good, but thank you." We went back and forth and finally he said "are you doing the race?" "Yes." "Ah, OK, then no wonder you can't have any." I'm going to use race training as an excuse more often.

After dinner I moved all of my things out of the condo and into the race hotel, where I finally had air conditioning. (The condo only had fans, which don't do a great job cooling the place.) As it turns out, AC is a tricky thing to manage. There is not going to be any air conditioning along the race, so the best way to acclimate to race conditions is to stay out of air conditioning as much as possible. On the other hand, you're not going to sleep very well laying on top of the covers sweating all night. For the most part I've been keeping the AC off and just giving the room a quick shot of cold air before bed. 

We went out to dinner and got caught in a light rain. It did wonders cooling off the place, and I wouldn't mind a little more of it on Saturday. 

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Kona, Day 1

The Suit

I had to pick up my speed suit today. When I ordered it, Xterra promised to have it delivered by September 30th. Then they said "oops, we haven't actually made the suits yet so you'll just have to pick it up in Kona." I freaked out about it at the time, but then I had so many troubles with my bike pedals that the suit issue paled in comparison.

Xterra is a major player in the triathlon world with a big presence at Ironman. So you'd think I'd be able to go to their tent in the Ironman Village and pick up my suit. No. Instead, they gave me the address of a house about 6 miles out of town. I was told to turn off the main road and go down a long driveway where I was supposed to meet "some guy". Between 6:30 and 9:30 am. And if he wasn't there, not to worry, his dad would be there. It felt like I was trying to score some drugs.

Surprisingly, my throat was not slit in a dark alley behind the house. I got the suit, and it seems to fit better than I expected. I gave it a quick try today and will take it out for a longer swim tomorrow.

The Phone

My big stress for the day was that I broke the charging cable for my phone. There are plenty of stores around town, but I don't have a car or my bike yet. Our travel company has 110 guests to attend with so they're not real flexible with the kind of shuttle service they can give. There is a shopping plaza about a quarter mile from the condo where they had chargers for iPods (not compatible with iPhone), cell phone chargers (not for iPhone) and USB chargers (USB cable not included.)

I was able to catch a shuttle into the heart of town, knowing that there was a K-Mart nearby. Unfortunately, I didn't have a good sense of the distance. It was about a 1.5 mile walk to K-Mart. Uphill, in the afternoon heat, wearing Crocs, when I'm supposed to be relaxing. At least I did find a charger. And then another 1.5 mile walk (downhill).

The Bike

After that, I was able to pick up my bike from Tri Bike Transport. I was going to just ride the 7 miles back to the condo, but after a few miles I realized the chain was rattling a little bit against the derailleur whenever I was in the highest gear. I turned around and brought it back to Tri Bike Transport for an adjustment.

I explained the situation to the lady at the table, who then called over one of their tech guys. He put the bike up on the rack and then asked me - you're not going to believe this - how to shift into the highest gear. That made me nervous. Then he called over another guy. Good. He spun the wheels a bit and said "It's only rubbing a little bit... Are you sure you're going to be using this gear?"

Excuse me?

I don't plan on hammering it all day long, but yes, I thought it would be nice to have all my gears working properly. I let him tweak it a little bit, said "thank you very much" and then rode over to a real bike shop, Bike Works. I basically told them what happened and said "I don't trust whatever adjustments they may or may not have done to my bike." The Bike Works guys are awesome and had me in and out in 5 minutes with a fully-functional bike.

In the interest of full-disclosure: when I was leaving Tri Bike Transport, their tech guy told me that if I had any more problems, to take it to a mechanic at the expo and they would reimburse me. They wanted to make sure I was satisfied. So I think important to note that they knew their limitations and were still making an effort to make sure I was taken care of.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Scary Gary

So there's this guy "Gary" I've mentioned before who rides with us a lot. He is the definitive "nicest, easiest-going guy you'd ever want to ride with." But he's an animal on the bike. He qualified for and raced Kona, and one night during dinner he asked me if I wanted to hear about his race experience.

Absolutely! I had never sat down and spoken with anyone who had done the race before, and this sounded like a great chance to get some insight into the course. I was looking forward to hearing about some tips and tricks for handling the race, as well as being inspired by hearing about his amazing experience.

Gary summed up his race thusly: "It brought me to tears."

I paused for a moment, wondering what he meant. Ah, the magic of the island! This was THE Ironman, the mystical race that must have so overwhelmed him with emotion that he couldn't help but cry, just to be a part of it. Was that what brought Gary to tears?

"No, it's just really really hard."

So wait a minute... This mountain goat who rides circles around me going up hills was reduced to a blubbering pile of spandex and carbon fiber when he did Kona.. What possible chance do I have?!!

Needless to say I didn't go back to Gary for more advice about Kona. I think I learned everything I need to know. Not true, he has given me pointers for the race and thankfully never showed me the photo of him crying on the course. I'll wait until after the race to see just how bad shape he was in. 

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Call Me Ishmael

What has been my most stressful thing to deal with for the past few days? Not packing. Not those last few workouts. I've been freaking out about my bike horn.

When I first started doing triathlons, I bought a bicycle and a killer whale squeaky horn. That whale has been with me from the very beginning. He was later joined (thanks to IronmAnnie) by his giant inflatable cousin at Oceanside 70.3 and in Coeur d'Alene. The whale appears on my blog, on t-shirts, and even my Ironman tattoo. The whale and I have been through a lot together. He can't squeak as loudly as he used to, but he's still a trooper.

I take him off the bike whenever I have to get a tune-up, and after the last one I somehow misplaced him. I didn't really worry about it, because I figured he would just turn up eventually. Well now it was 2 days before I was leaving for Hawaii and he was still lost. I really wanted to have that specific whale with me for the race, but the more important thing is that I could NOT do Kona without a killer whale squeaky horn. I decided I should go out and get a new one, knowing that my old horn would understand.

Turns out, they are not easy to find. I spent the weekend driving everywhere looking for a killer whale squeaky horn: Bicycle John's. Sport Chalet. Montrose Cyclery. Helen's. Target. I was getting worried that I would have to find one online and have it FedExed to my hotel or something. Finally, I went to Incycle in Pasadena and saw the whale. At first I was very excited/relieved, but then when I looked closer at it I saw that it was all banged up and scraped. This whale would have to be a back-up, but I would still try a few more places to find one in good condition. If I have to replace my whale, I might as well get a really nice, shiny new one, right?

But then I started thinking about it a little more. When compared with most of the other competitors in Kona, I am not in "great shape." So why does my killer whale squeaky horn have to be in great shape? Is his squeak any less enthusiastic? Will he enjoy the race any less simply because his cardboard cage took off some of his black skin? Maybe we are kindred spirits going into this race.

So I have a new killer whale squeaky horn for my bike. At some point, I am sure I will find my old one and I think they will be friends.

Regrets, I've had a Few...

When I found out I won a Kona Lottery slot, the first thing I did was panic. Then I freaked out a bit. Then I started to plan all the things I needed to do over the summer to prepare for the race. A lot of those things never happened. Mostly because of laziness and a bit of A.D.D. (I have trouble staying focused.) So these are some of the woulda-coulda-shoulda things from this past summer, along with my excuses.

I shoulda swam more. My condo building has a genuine lap-pool an elevator-ride away. I had visions of me being down there every morning at 7am doing laps. Well that sure didn't happen. It takes me a long time to wind down at night, especially if I'm out riding/running until 8 or 9:00, and I just can't get myself in bed by 10 or 11:00.

I shoulda got a bike fitting. I've had 4 fittings on 2 bikes and I have never felt comfortable in the aero position. I can't go a half-mile without feeling my shoulder tensing up. Part of the problem is that I'm just using clamp-on aerobars on non-tri bikes, but maybe I could have improved something. Would the 5th time be the charm? I don't know. The other thing is that I always felt like I was sitting kind of low on my new bike. I've been using my old bike this past week (after shipping race bike of to Kona) and I'm sitting higher and it feels better.

I shoulda gone shoe shopping. I'm not thrilled with my running shoes. There's nothing really wrong with them, but nothing great either. They have the odd quality of feeling OK to run in, but uncomfortable to walk in. After my previous shoe model was discontinued I went to lots of stores trying to find a new shoe. I bought and returned two other pairs before settling on these. Maybe I would have found a better shoe, maybe not.

I shoulda dieted better. I likes me my sweets. I am weak.

Having said all that, there are some positive things: I think my swim form has improved. I did many more mid-distance bike rides than I have in previous years. And I really upped my running mileage this time around. Hopefully all that will cancel out some of my shouldas.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

2011 Lottery is Open!

The lottery for the 2011 Ironman World Championships is now open. This is obviously a topic near and dear to my heart. Looking around blogs and twitter-verse, I was surprised to see how much opposition there was to the Lottery. People are saying that the lottery is lame and that the lottery people "don't deserve to be there." I understand what these people are saying, and I hope they will understand me when I say that they are morons.

First, a disclaimer: there are a lot of people out there who say "if I ever do Kona, it's going to be because not qualified, not through the lottery." And that's fine by me. It's a fantastic goal and a great accomplishment and more power to them.

Getting back to the lottery... it wasn't created by NBC as a desperate attempt to boost ratings. It's been around pretty much as long as the race itself. And who knows... maybe the race founders created the lottery as a sneaky way to make it easier to sell the TV rights with all of those human-interest stories about the "everyman" doing the race. Doesn't matter. The point is, the Ironman and the lottery have been connected since the start. Hate the lottery, hate the founding fathers.

I've heard the argument that no other sport lets "average people" into their championship matches. Well, not many other sports have 2000 people competing at once. And not to take anything away from all of those age-groupers who reach the podium, but if you're going to have 20 first-place finishers in a "World Championship Race", I think it's safe to say that the rules are a little different here.

I personally prefer to say that people "qualified" for Kona rather than "they earned their slot." Because I feel that I too earned my slot. Oh, maybe not with a fast finishing time, but maybe the Ironman gods smiled on me for the support I've given other racers over the years, and I have good race-karma, (To clarify, nothing pleases me more than to mock triathlon hippies with all of their voodoo magic training ideas. But I'm not about to mess with the Island gods. That's bad mojo.)

So to anyone who is racing in Kona next week who feels like I don't belong there, don't worry about me. I promise I won't be in your way during the swim or won't cut you off on the bike course. You just go ahead and do your little striving-to-the-podium thingee. But verily I say unto theee, (that's right, verily): I deserve to be there more than you do. And I guarantee you my supporters are better than yours. So there.

(And no, I'm not entering the lottery for next year.)