Stiff legs, up and down stairs very difficult. Lots of nutritional recovery aids, protein powder, Glutamine, BCAAs, Emergen-C. Stretching, TP Massage rollering, foam rollering, lacrosse ball massage. Wore compression leggings. Heart/lungs feel less affected than in previous races.
Race + 2 days:
Legs much better today. Wore compression calf sleeves. Lots of nutritional recovery aids, protein powder, Glutamine, BCAAs, Emergen-C. Stretching, TP Massage rollering, foam rollering, lacrosse ball massage.
Got home and did MVP 1 hour session.
Race + 3 days:
Legs much looser after MVP session last night. Did another 1 hour MVP session this morning. Wore compression calf sleeves, took protein powder, Glutamine, BCAAs, Emergen-C.
Race + 4 days:
Lungs still feel stretched. Nutritional recovery with protein powder, Glutamine, BCAAs, Emergen-C.
Hoping for a 1.5 week recovery - we'll see over the next few days.
Some thoughts on the race itself, CDA, and my preparation:
1. Overall I thought CDA was a well run race. Logistics were very good and everything moved pretty smoothly.
2. They told us they required reflectors to be stuck on our clothing. I never saw anyone check and it stays light pretty late, maybe to 900p.
3. The swim was very choppy and the waves come directly at you, which hit me in the face as I went to sight and I swallowed a lot of water. I have also heard in years past that mountain streams which flow into the lake can drop the water temps to mid-50s, almost like swimming in the SF Bay! Lucky for us that it was in the mid-60s this year, and also that I raced Alcatraz the weekend before which made me get a bit used to cold water.
4. Because of the rain throughout the week, the ground was soggy and a bit muddy. As I walked with my bike shoes, I was scared that the mud would cake up my clips. Later, I did dig dirt out of my clips on the bottom of my shoes, but thankfully they did not cause any problems in clipping into my pedals. Also, sitting down on the grass to change during T2 wasn't so fun although I didn't really think of this until later in the race when I saw a lot of people with dirt on their backs and butt from sitting or laying down in the grass to change.
5. The wind was very tough. It seems to blow right up the straightaway up Government Way and 4th Street, so it helps you on the way out on the bike course as there is a slight upgrade but blasts you on the way back, even when it's a downhill. Out in the hilly areas, there were a few nervous moments when I was coming fast down hills, only to be hit sideways by a strong wind. Once my bike front wheel started to oscillate due to a wind burst and I almost lost control!
6. The steep, short hills up near/around Hayden Lake were tough for me. There seemed to be a good downhill after each uphill, so you make up for slowing down on a climb. Many ups and downs through that whole area until you get back to 4th Street. Still, my strength is not where it needs to be to get through those hills in a bike time I would like.
7. I felt the run was pretty good. The hills there were very gradual and I would say that the only stickler was the big hill at the turnaround on the Centennial Trail/Coeur d'Alene Lake Dr. It was pretty steep (you also bike up and over this hill) so it hits you in an unfriendly way since all the other hills were pretty gradual. Lots of turns happen when you get back into Coeur d'Alene itself, through the residential areas.
8. The run aid stations were pretty good. They were spaced about 2 miles apart, although I think some were closer to each other than others. Nobody ran out of anything by the time I got there so that was really good. Thank god for the presence of cola on an Ironman race!
9. For some weird reason, the miles in CDA felt sooooo much longer than normal. I remember coming back on the last loop of the bike with only about 6 miles left, and those were the longest 6 miles I've ever felt. Likewise on the run, every time I passed a mile marker it felt like forever to get to the next one.
10. Speaking of mile markers, there weren't many at all on the bike so I had to rely on my computer to figure out where I was in the course. On the run, the first loop is marked every 2 miles approximately. On the second run loop, they are marked about every mile from about 17 onwards, maybe earlier. Personally I'd prefer a mile marker at every mile as it's motivating for me to count down the distance on the run.
11. As you turn on Sherman Ave, it's a gentle downhill straightaway to the finish, which you can see off into the distance. This is motivationally great as you can use the downhill to speed up and hear the crowds grow louder as you approach.
12. I thought the food in the finishers' tent was kind of lame. There was pizza, bananas, oranges, bagels, cola, water, and chicken broth: basically the same stuff as in aid stations. I don't know about you but I'd really rather not eat more of what I had out on the course; after 4+ hours of eating/drinking that stuff, I'd rather have something else!
13. Weather-wise, this race was really tough moving to miserable. The temps never rose much above 60, and then as we approached night they dropped into the low 50s. With the wind chill factor, it was probably even less. Then, couple that with rain, it just made your wet body give up more heat. Thankfully for the late finishers, the rain stopped just before I hit the finish line, maybe around 630p-700p. I couldn't imagine what it would have been like if it kept raining into the night.
This place has very variable weather - I have heard that in years past, it has gotten up to 97 degrees on the run. So low 50s/wind/rain to 97 degrees - talk about really rolling the dice on this course!
14. The two loop nature of both the bike and run meant that you could see potentially each racer 4 times on the bike and 4 times on the run. So plenty of opportunity to see people, and then have time to get to the finish line to see them come in.
1. It's a pretty nice place. There are some huge mansions along the lake with private beaches. Lots of forest and greenery, and lots of things for families to do.
2. We rented a house almost right on the run course and about a block away from the bike course, which made for easy spectating and a good place to retreat to between watching for food and bathroom stops. Plus, in the wind and cold, it was nice to go back to somewhere and warm up instead of sitting outside the whole time. It seemed like there were many places to rent in/around the course, so I would highly recommend this.
3. Downtown was small and quaint. Many art galleries with some pretty nice stuff. Also, many different restaurants there as well, with nice small cafes to hang out in. The local wine isn't all that great though - too sour for me! Be sure to visit the Pita Pit on Sherman Ave at 4th Street.
4. Watch the weather carefully. I knew it would be chilly so I brought wool technical wear plus a fleece lined shell. Check out this weather report for the rest of this week:
After a rainy cold week of 40s-60s, today it leaps to 74 and tomorrow it's going to be 86! The rest of the week remains in the mid-70s. Geez imagine if only the race had been a week later...
About my preparation:
1. I had thought my swimming was pretty good. I think the rough water made for a slow swim, even in the draft of 2000+ swimmers. But somehow I'm still not as fast as I want to be. I did survive the swim without feeling too taxed, so fitness wise I'm good, but just not as fast as I want to be.
2. This year I focused on hill climbing by doing intervals up Kings Mtn and Old La Honda. I think this is the right thing to continue, as I am weakest in cycling strength up hills. In three years since Austria, I have improved a lot on hill climbing and still have a ways to go. But at least this year, the bike hill climbing did not wipe my legs and I was still good on the run.
3. My run training was pretty good this year and I was able to maintain a decent pace, assuming that my knee was bugging me. Add the weather to that and my motivation to run was dropping so I think fitness wise I was pretty good but other factors made for a tough run. The gradual hills didn't bother me at all, so my weeks of treadmill hill training has done wonders for that. But I still don't have the ability to power up steeper hills, as evidenced by the steep hill at the turnaround on Coeur d'Alene Lake Dr.
More work to be done as always. I'll be continuing strength building and hill climbing ability for the rest of the year on both the bike and run.
The day after is usually one that is filled with stiff muscles and a wasted body. I felt more stressed than usual, crediting that to the extra cold temps and battling the hills. So I spent the day drinking protein powder laden drinks, taking BCAAs and Glutamine pills, and lots of Emergen-C to try to get my system back in action ASAP.
We went back to the Pita Pit to have lunch. I had a chicken souvlaki pita which was real good.
Afterwards, we strolled a bit to check out Coeur d'Alene and to keep the blood flowing in my legs. There seems to be an obsession with mooses here in CDA. Not sure why.
I met a moose once. It was huge. I hear they are big and mean animals. I hope I never meet one in the forest. I cannot imagine one charging down on me with those huge antlers of theirs. Very scary.
Back home, Dan's energy finally runs out and he's sacked out on the couch:
At night, I go to the Brix Chop House for some steak dinner. On the menu, there was mashed potatoes but no baked potatoes. How strange. I just wanted a regular baked Idaho potato with my steak. Nope. Nada. Only mashed potatoes, either parmesan garlic or some mix of bacon, cheese, and other stuff. Do they only keep the ugly potatoes (after shipping the beautiful looking potatoes elsewhere) such that they can't even serve them like that in restaurants, and they have to resort to mushing them up to sell them?
After my usual preparation of equipment and also eating, we gathered up our stuff and went out to the transition area. It was already pretty crowded by 530a when we got there. Guess lots of people were antsy about preparation! The skies were partly cloudy but it was very windy and a bit chilly.
I put my nutrition in my bags and then realized I had some stuff in the wrong bags so I went back and reshifted some of my equipment into the right bags. I then went to my bike and thankfully it was relatively dry, having seen the first night in CDA where it didn't rain overnight. I jammed my nutrition into the bento boxes and setup my water bottles: one in the back and one on the seat tube holders. I learned this from Ken Glah who said that you will always have one bottle in case the other flies out of its holder during a rough patch on the bike. It never flies out of the holder on the seat tube.
I found Keish putting a balloon on his bike. Nice way of finding his bike fast!
After preparing my bike and bags, I go to the bathroom and attempt to "unload" as much as possible. Unfortunately, nothing still was coming out and my brain filled with anxiety on what this could mean later. I then went into the changing tent and put on my wetsuit, and handed my last bag to the helpers in the tent.
I was supposed to meet my wife and others at 830a but all that made me a bit late so I headed directly to the beach entry and glad that I did because there was only this tiny entranceway where every swimmer had to enter because everyone had to cross the timing mat in order to get into the swim start area. I went down close to the line of buoys as I like to swim along the buoys. But I stood there alone for a while until my buddy Lawrence found me, and then later Dan came over.
They played the national anthem and then I went down to the water amongst the other competitors there. The gun goes off and we leap into the water, arms churning.
The water was very choppy and the waves were headed directly into us. This made for tough swimming for me, as I was getting a mouthful almost everytime I sighted. I finally figured out how to sight and not take a mouthful of water. It was also a very violent swim, my most violent yet. In all my other Ironmans, I have never gotten kicked or shoved; here it was happening all the time! I got kicked three times in the face and if not for my goggles I am sure I would have gotten a black eye. Also there were a few people swimming breaststroke; man I wish they wouldn't do that. The frog kick of a breaststroke only means that your chances of getting kicked hard increase. Also, their sweeping arms just keep bashing into everyone alongside.
I finally find some quiet swimming to the inside of the buoys and I tried to still be in the current formed by 2000+ swimmers. I reached the first turnaround buoy in no time flat and then came around. The way back was much easier as the waves were now pushing us from behind. I got out at the beach, ran around the marker, and then jumped back in for the second loop. Again, it was violent and the waves kept threatening to make me swallow more water as they battered me head on. The wind had picked up even more now and the waves were a bit higher. On the way back, I felt like I was swimming pretty well; but when I got out of the water, I noticed I swam the whole thing in 1:18, which is about 3 minutes slower than I thought I would swim! Oh well.
I got my top and arms out of the wetsuit and ran to transition where there were people who helped me remove my wetsuit. I ran with that to get my T1 bag and then changed outside. For some reason it was a slow and long transition - 9:40 by the timing on the website. But I just got everything ready, putting on my arm warmers, helmet, sunglasses, bike shoes, etc. Then I did a quick visit to the bathroom and got out to where they would hand you your bike and then I was out on the course.
It was a fast exit out, and we turned towards the left part of the bike course. It was kind of windy by the lake and I found myself at times holding on while strong gusts would push me around. I was glad that it seemed to push my front tire, but not my back disc. Along the way I see Keish racing back on the other side. He looked pretty fast. I go up the big hill, make the turnaround and start back going up the hill and down. Racing back to town, we turn onto the first major straightaway.
By now, my stomach is kind of bothering me. All that water I swallowed on the rough swim was making my stomach a little upset. Very bad! I had to slow down my eating for a while to see if it would calm down.
With the wind behind us and pushing us along the first straightaway towards the upper part of the bike course, we take this slightly uphill portion pretty fast. But then on the upper portion, it grows hilly and it's a set of continuous rollers, with steep uphill climbs and big downhills. I test my fitness a bit here but not too aggressively, and make it OK through the hills.
We're then back on the main straightaway back into town and now it's a slight downhill BUT the tailwind from the way up is now a headwind and we're pushing to make 20+ MPH on the way back. With the big packs of cyclists, there are groups of us riding back now and we're all trying to go as fast as we can. The first half sees me in around 3 hours or so.
I go out again on the second loop and after I pick up my special needs bag (switching out for two water bottles), I make a pit stop and "unload". That was an important step because it made my stomach feel so much better, and I lose about 3 minutes doing that. Better now than on the run or some other time!
Heading back out on the straightaway, the wind is again at my back but I am slower this time. I feel a bit depleted combating the hills through the first loop. I hit the set of rollers again and I really feel it now. My legs just aren't good enough to stay strong through this many rollers. But I do think I am better than 3 years ago when I raced Austria and it was similar terrain. My legs were totally wiped after two loops of those hills! I conserve energy now as I go through the second loop of rollers but I am out of my seat a lot to climb, just so I save my quads from constant, grinding revolutions.
I should say that it's been cloudy this whole time, the wind has been blowing, and temps have been in the low 60s. But now the sun actually peeks out and I'm hoping that the sun will stay. This was short-lived as later on, the sun gets obscured once again by clouds moving in.
It was a tough thing, but I make it back to the straightaway and now I'm battling stronger headwinds. I pedal conservatively at first, but then I realize I have a Powertap disc and that maybe I should look at the watts display some more.
The first thing I realize is that I'm only pedaling at 80-100 watts maybe and I realize that I could pedal harder. Duh! I quickly raise my watts to 120-150w and I'm going at least 2 MPH faster because I know I can maintain more watts over a long period of time. And the watt meter is right; I don't feel an extra tightening of my legs due to the extra watts.
I also start playing with drafting behind people and watching the watt meter. I pedal up to their back wheel, drift in and out of their draft, and also back off to about 5 bike lengths behind. I find that my watt meter is saying that I am saving at least 20-30 watts by being in somebody's draft and maintaining speed, and also even as far back as 5 bike lengths I still am saving almost 20 watts! I think I read somewhere that drafting benefit doesn't disappear for quite a distance behind another rider in front of you. Interesting to see real proof before my very eyes.
As I reach T2, I try to push harder and it's tough in my depleted state. First, it's because my legs aren't good in the hills, and secondly it's because it's so cold and my body is using up energy just to keep warm.
I make it into T2, where they take my bike and I go and grab my T2 bag and go into the changing tent. I put on my running gear and move out onto the course.
Thankfully my attempt at conserving energy on the bike worked OK as I quickly moved up into a decent cadence. Once again I pass Keish out on the first part of the run, and then also pass Lawrence who came in about 13 minutes after me. I am feeling OK, but don't chance it and start guzzling cola at aid stations. I run through each one as I don't want to have them slow me down by walking through them. There aren't many hills on the CDA run which have bothered me so I am glad that my run hill training as made the smaller ones not so tough. But there is a big steep hill out on one side of the run course. Right before this big hill, Keish passes me and is running strong. I was wondering when he was going to catch me!
On the big hill, I see him power up there, whereas I run a part of it and then start walking a bit midway. Keish makes his turnaround and then sees me walking and says, "Dave! What are you doing?!?!" I tell him that I am tired of all these dang Idaho hills. He laughs and speeds away.
By now the temps are dropping a bit and the wind has not let up. I have not needed to walk much yet so thankful for that. My energy feels good but man it's getting chilly out here. I have been doing my schedule of electrolyte tablets, Sportlegs, and Powergels and everything seems to be going fine.
But the cold temps are starting to wear on me. I just want to get to that finish line! About 1:30 into the run, it starts to drizzle...and then it starts raining! Crap. Now a cold day just turned into a potentially dangerous chilly day. Now my motivation both starts to sag and to grow, as I know that the sooner I get to the finish line the better I will be.
I joke with someone on the course that CDA miles seem a lot longer than anywhere else. He agreed. For some reason running here just seems like it takes a lot longer. Maybe it was the miserable weather...
I make it to about mile 19 when my right knee starts hurting. Ugh! I've been plagued with this problem where somewhere past mile 12 (sometimes sooner, sometimes later) the fascia around either or both knees starts clamping down on my knee, which makes for a stiff and painful run. Now it's clamping down on my right knee and this really sucks because now I'm forced to walk to make it stop hurting, and then run a bit until it starts hurting again.
I passed Lawrence a few times, the first few times we were both running; the last 1-2 times we're both walking now!
But I try to maintain my cadence when I do run and when I got to mile 23, I just could not summon enough strength to sprint to the finish line. Somehow it stops raining which makes things slightly better, but also the temps have dropped even further now. I do this painful run/walk thing until I reach mile 25.5 or so and then I find out I can run without pain when I turn my right foot outward slightly. How weird is that?!? So I start running now without pain, although I am partially glad that I found out so late because you never know when you change your running gait that you may inadvertantly cause some other problem to pop up.
I make the turn onto Sherman Ave, which is pretty cool because it's a downhill and a straight shot to the finish line, which you can see off in the distance. I pass my buddy Dan and his family, and Keish as I run strong for the finish. As I hit the finish line, I raise my arms up and give a lion's roar!!!!
I was so glad to hit the finish line. This was definitely the most miserable race I've ever done. I think the temps were below 55 degrees when I got there, and the wind did not let up at all. My body was tired and sore, and extra depleted because of the low temps. Still, I was glad it was not also my most painful as it easily could have been due to my inability to handle hills well; Austria remains my most painful race, with legs wiped out from the bike climbing and fighting cramping on the run the whole way. So I have improved since Austria but still have a ways to go.
I am disappointed at the food they offered at the finish line, which was basically the same pizza, chicken broth, bananas, oranges, and cola they had out at the aid stations. I scarfed down a pizza and then all of a sudden my body cools down and I start to shiver uncontrollably. I race for my bags and change into something dry and warm. I head home, only to jump back into a cold ice bath and I sat there shivering for the longest 10 minutes of my life, but then get up and take a hot shower and go for something to eat in my kitchen that did not mimic aid station food.
A tired ending to a long and miserable day. I managed to get my finisher's medal through what has been the toughest race I've had so far.
I'm up and prepared all my bottles and stuff to bring to the race in the morning. As the sun rose (skies were light at 430a, sunrise at 445a), they showed clear blue skies with a bit of breeze. Weather report looks for possibility of rain around 3pm now. Should be a nice cool race day!
Off soon to the starting area. Will publish after the race with my race report!
At the Museum of North Idaho I bought a post card which had a humongous potato in it.
At that moment, I remembered that Idaho was famous for Idaho potatoes! But also, I realized that I hadn't eaten a single potato. In fact, at Safeway, I didn't really see any potatoes even being sold.
I thought this was strange, so I asked the lady at the museum shop about potatoes. I remarked that there didn't seem to be a single potato in sight, in the potato capital of the world! She said that generally, there are no potatoes in Idaho because they basically ship all of them everywhere else and don't keep any of them around!
We thought this was strange. Wouldn't it be an Idaho tourist mecca to have theme restaurants serving luxury potato dishes? Potato pancakes, potato steaks, potato quiche, potato cola, potato milk shakes, potato ice cream, potato candy..why the possibilities are endless! I would think tourists would love it. Some budding entrepreneur should do this.
This morning the crew got up and made some t-shirts to cheer us racers on:
Then we took our bikes and bags over to transition and left them there for the race tomorrow:
We then walked back to our car and saw some mooses (meese? what's the plural of moose?) - apparently there is some kind of fascination with mooses here in Idaho. Somebody had a big sculpture of one on their porch. We also ducked into the Museum of North Idaho but only dropped into the gift shop where I bought a stuffed moose and a postcard that had the biggest darned potato I've ever seen. The museum was all about logging and forestry and what little we did see of the museum beyond the gift shop was a showcase of chain saws:
The last picture is of the finish line, still under construction and to be filled with screaming Ironman fans tomorrow...
Always must eat pasta to carbo load for the race and so we rolled down to the pasta dinner party. 15 minutes before and the line was snaking way out onto the street! Again the Trimaven boys were in full force:
Gatorade was everywhere on the tables and the food was decent. I piled on pasta and had a brownie to top it off. They showed inspirational Ironman videos while we ate. Mike Reilly was announcing to a full house:
At many of the races, they give out awards for the most weight lost during Ironman training for this particular race. These three lost more than 130-140 lbs. The big guy lost 150 lbs!!! That's how much I weigh!
Here we are again, 2 days before our race and hoping that the weather will cooperate:
After swimming, we were hungry and we went to find The Pita Pit, whose headquarters are here in Coeur d'Alene. How nice to find a place that serves a variety of foods all wrapped burrito style in a pita bread. I also met the owner of The Pita Pit, who is also the regional director for The Pita Pits all here in the Western states. I am proud to know this man, as he is brother-in-law to my buddy Lawrence who runs the Trimaven team.
Note the huge mobile home that The Pita Pit parties in. We unfortunately were not able to party in it.
This morning I woke again early to light streaming in the windows at 530a. I got up around 7am and Dan was already up. But as we were sitting there, he reading email and me eating cereal it starts to rain hard. Ugh we think - not good for Sunday if this keeps up. But a few minutes later, it stops. Our hopes rise.
Around 8am we grab our stuff and head out to the swim start to go try out the swim course. There we meet up with the Trimaven boys and the ever-present Ironman racer Keish, who shows up at almost every Ironman.
The waters of Coeur d'Alene Lake were very choppy. We went to get our wetsuits on and jumped into the water. The waves were high and annoying; they battered us head-on so that whenever we sighted, we would get a face full of water. The waves were so severe that when I would take a breath to the right, I would sometimes see a mountain of water crest and fly over my head as I ran into a wave. As we get out and get undressed, we met a lot of SF triathletes who are also racing this coming weekend.
The last picture is of my beautiful photographer wife.
Yesterday's travel really sucked. Whenever it's windy and/or foggy at SFO, the air traffic gets delayed by many hours. So we didn't take off until 4pm (scheduled for 1240p). It was a short hop to Spokane and on/off raining when we got here. A quick 40 minute ride got us to Coeur d'Alene and then to our rental house. Not a bad place, a bit rustic but with all modern furnishings and appliances.
Feeling a bit stuffed up since yesterday. Not sure if it's allergies or something else. It would really suck if it were something else like a cold. That's what I don't need right before the race!
Weather is variable - rainy yesterday, sunny today. Temps are fairly cool which is good. It's a bit breezy but not so good. Will head over to the expo today and go shopping, also pick up my bike later today. Will probably go for a ride on the bike course and check it out, assuming I feel OK.
On Sunday June 21, cool temps 64 degrees high/45 degrees low - BONUS! Isolated T-storms - not so good, but better than thunderstorms and rain all day long.
If the temps stay cool, this could make for a great race for me, as I'm not a great hot weather racer. On the other hand, it could make for a chilly morning so I need to bring arm warmers, maybe even biking gloves so that my fingers don't get numb. I once fumbled a gel packet on the bike because my fingers were so numb from riding in the cold at IM NZ, so none of that this year (I hope!).
I'm almost packed up and ready to go. Just a few more things I want to throw in my suitcases and hope it all fits. Thankfully, TriBike Transport has my bike and some bike gear so my bags aren't as full as normal.
I have some anticipation but not as much this year as in years past. Maybe I'm becoming a veteran and I don't get all worked up anymore? Or maybe I'm just distracted by all this travel I'm going to have in such a short amount of time.
I've never been to Coeur d'Alene before. Who knows what I'll find there, which is why I'm bringing a lot of stuff - you never know once you move to certain parts of the US whether or not they have stuff that you can get in the larger metro areas - brands of suntan lotion, equipment, etc.
For some reason, this season my left hip has been extremely sensitive to heavy efforts. This weekend racing Escape from Alcatraz was no exception. I was worried that my hip would tighten up and sure enough it did, although it was less severe than in the past months. It actually stopped tightening up for a while but now it was back.
Having a tight hip doesn't feel good. It doesn't hurt, but it feels like my muscles surrounding my leg at the hip area are dragging my whole leg upward, restricting movement and reducing severely its ability to absorb running shock.
When I went out to run with a tight hip, it feels like I'm thumping on the ground with every left step; very bad for shock absorption and I hated knowing that with every step I was transmitting that much more shock into my hip bones and structures. Definitely a possible cause for hip fractures! Thus it was important for me to get that hip loosened up as much as possible.
ART and Graston helped immensely. Self massage with a softball and lacrosse ball also helped, as did foam roller and TP Massage Rollers. But ART really helped loosened up the hip and I wish my ART practictioner would come with me to help loosen it up before the race! But alas, that is not to be.
So some massaging with balls and rollers, and then some self applied scraping with my own Gua Sha and STARR tools, and then some fast cycling on my trainer working through my pedaling efficiency workouts has really loosened it up some. I hope that in the few days to come before the race that it will completely get to normal so that I can be at least start the race loosened up.
Mostly, it's important to be loose for the race. I need to have zero muscle restriction so that my legs can just move fast. I have practiced this all season during training, which is to use minimal energy to swing or cycle my legs either on the bike or run. I just want to fire my muscles just enough to make it move through the next cycle and no more. Contracting further just wastes energy. I'm glad that it's starting to relax and hopefully by race morning it will be gone.
Today I raced Escape from Alcatraz as a warmup to IM CDA. I had not intended to race so close to IM CDA, but I made a mistake when I signed up for the Alcatraz lottery as I thought this race was 2 weeks before IM CDA, not one! Well as fate would have it, I actually got in and decided to race.
The race was huge. There were 2000 people signed up! I wasn't really serious about this race so I told myself I'd take it easy. I almost didn't manage to get everything together as I was preparing for the race and also packing for IM CDA. In fact, I did forget one crucial thing, which was to take my Sportlegs. This was definitely a mistake as on the bike, I did feel the burn whereas I normally don't. Likewise on some of the run, I also felt the burn. But thankfully I didn't cramp - it was the first race I've done without salt tablets, although I did put Endurolyte powder in my drinks. So I was very glad to not seize up in pain during the race.
This was the first time I did the swim landing at Yacht Harbor. It seems like such a tiny place to land - the last time I did a similar crossing I landed at Crissy Field for the Alcatraz Challenge, which is a much larger landing spot. So I was worried I would overshoot. Thankfully I did not and landed fine. It was a bit choppy and the current didn't seem to sweep me as fast as I thought it would. I landed in about :45.
The bike was very challenging. It seemed like I was always climbing through the small mountains of San Francisco. I don't think I was on my aerobars much at all, maybe three times. There was one small stretch where it was so steep that I was out of my seat and in my second to lowest gear. I was happy to get back to T2. The hills and the fact that I wasn't trying too hard got me in at 1:05.
The run was very scenic. It took us past the Golden Gate and down the west side of SF. But it was also a mountain climbing exercise. We were going up stretches and stairs where we had no choice but to walk. Then we also went up the famous sand ladder and we had to walk up that as well. By then, I was sick of mountain climbing - first on the bike and then on the run. Geez. I pushed it gently once I got up the sand ladder and got in around 1:15.
I don't think I'll do this one again soon. The race is exciting and fun, but it also cost $400 and that's about as much as for a full Ironman. Also, the mountain climbing all day long wasn't too much fun.
Now for recovery and get ready for Ironman next weekend!
I've raced in pretty hot, really windy, and cool weather, but I've been real fortunate to never have raced in rain. Many of my friends have, but I have not. Looking at this weather report on my iPhone, I can only hope that the weather past Thursday is going to clear up. Being out there for 12 hours in rain will really suck.
We're about 10 days away from IM CDA. Last weekend, my back decided to flare up. Very annoying! It set off muscle tightness in my left lower back and glute and made it painful to move around. About once a year this happens and this was not the best timing. I iced it twice a day, which I knew would remove the disc issue, and then some PT yesterday set my muscles on their way to releasing and being back to normal. I just hope that it doesn't flare up at Escape from Alcatraz, which I'm racing this Sunday as a warmup for IM CDA.
My bike is over at Cupertino Bike Shop and ready to be picked up by TriBike Transport. Since TriBike Transport is picking up my normal race bike on Saturday, I'm racing my Ritchey Breakaway Titanium at Alcatraz.
Late last week, I took my Breakaway out of its suitcase and discovered that the Qantas baggage handlers had thrown or dropped it so hard that it bent the top tube! When I tried to put the bike together, the pieces didn't line up anymore! I was really mad but also in a bind because I wasn't sure what I was going to race if I couldn't race my Ritchey.
I emailed Ritchey Design for help. Amazingly, Tom Ritchey replied to me and invited me to come over to his house where he put my bike frame half with bent top tube into a vice, and the proceeded to bend it back. Wow, Titanium is sure some strong stuff! He was putting his whole back and weight into it and bending it little by little. Titanium has this flexible quality where you need to bend it past the point you want it, and then it springs back. So we kept bending it, checking it, bending it and checking it until the pieces lined up again. Man I thanked him profusely for helping me out! It was stellar moment for me and very impressed with Tom and his company. Definitely buying more Ritchey stuff whenever I get the chance!
So now I've got my Ritchey ready to race, and hope the titanium didn't weaken to a point where the bike is going to fall apart on me at Alcatraz. I'll put up an Alcatraz race report shortly after the race.
Otherwise, my power and speed are both looking good for Ironman. Yesterday I did a Speed+Threshold workout on the bike Computrainer and got through it with no problem. Today I ran a treadmill hill+speed workout to loosen up my legs; don't want to stress them too much as I want my muscles to calm down fully from my back issue. Biking doesn't seem to stress it as much as running does. So lots of rest for Sunday and pray that Alcatraz doesn't fire up my back again.
Other than my back, I'm happy that the normal aches and pains prior to any race haven't emerged as much this year. Any kind of ache or twinge I'm really worried about because getting injured right before a race is not a good thing!
Here I sit in the middle of taper now. Feelin' pretty good this year. Some highlights as I approach Ironman:
1. Yesterday I weighed myself on the scale at only 145 lbs! This is midday, after I've eaten breakfast, had fluids to drink, etc. I think I may be as low as 143 lbs on race morning. Well, less to carry with me on the race, hopefully that means more speed.
2. Last year, I was able to go up a combination of Old La Honda and Kings Mountain repetitions of up to 4 times. But I didn't do anything special; I just was happy to make it up those hills 4x on my peaking rides.
This year, I was able to do 4 laps but I used intervals to increase their ability to make me stronger. I didn't want to do just do the same thing I did last year. I wanted to improve on my cycling time and strength and I shouldn't be doing the same thing as last year; I need to keep hitting my body differently. So I began doing intervals the entire way up either Old La Honda or Kings, and doing them such that I would increase effort by the last lap.
I survived this and I believe this has made me stronger on the bike.
3. Mostly I have been relatively injury free this year. I do have a tightness in my right glute and hip, which has extended down my outer hamstring. I also have tight flexor hallicuses on both legs, probably due to my constant negative splits on my long runs. Both have been managed effectively through ART and Graston technique.
4. This year, I extensively trained my neuromuscular system in all 3 disciplines. For swimming, my form hasn't been all that great and I've rediscovered Total Immersion swimming to help with this. In cycling, I've really tuned my muscles to keep my legs cycling fast especially when I crest hills instead of slowing down. This is also true after all my interval training where I am really tired but I still can cycle my legs fast by relaxing my legs but my nerves can continue to fire. In running, I used a treadmill to train my legs to keep working at fast paces, and also in getting used to powering up grades at faster speeds. Thus now I feel pretty good at keeping my leg muscles firing even when they are really tired.
5. My recovery lengthened by almost an extra day from 3 days to 4. I did not know why at first and it was very concerning. I did know that I had increased my intensity year over year and each time, I had added almost an extra day of recovery and now I was at 4 days. This means I was left with only 3 days of working out at effective wattages or paces, which isn't enough to stress all disciplines enough. I needed to find how to recover faster or else I wouldn't be able to train to my max potential.
I read Dara Torres's book, "Age is Just a Number" and she, being of similar age as me, told of how training for the Olympics at her age meant that she would intersperse more recovery workouts with high intensity workouts, rather than doing a constant string of high intensity workouts which can be withstood by younger athletes. This did not mean that she wouldn't improve or be faster - she did set some world records after all.
So I tried this and this did help. But I was still perplexed by my lengthened recovery time. Then I got a Normatec MVP and that really helped my leg recovery. But my heart/lungs still felt very stretched well into the 3rd day, and almost the 4th. Something more had to be done. I was sure of it.
It was then I got my first clue from my physical therapist who talked about nutrition in recovery. Then I got some help from a tweet and another buddy of mine who took Glutamine to help recover.
I then began trying protein powder, BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acid), and Glutamine, on the theory that my body was passing food too quickly and not absorbing enough nutrients from each meal. The results were astounding; I was able to pull in recovery almost a full 2 days!
Still some workouts did stress my body too much. I normally do a workouts in the peaking phase that incorporate mile (and longer) repeats. This season, I started with some long repeats that had some short, fast sprints intermixed. These workouts were too much for my system and lengthened my recovery by an extra day mid-week. I had to pull back and just do more simpler mile repeats.
Other gadgets that I used this year was vibration, via a Port-A-Vibe, and Gua Sha tools which are similar to Graston tools. I am also lusting after a Direct Muscle Stimulator which is able to cause tight muscles to release, but this is really expensive and haven't made the leap yet. Maybe next year.
7. I had the pleasure of guiding two of my friends on their triathlon journeys, one to her first half Iroman and the other to his first Ironman.
The days are passing quickly and my anticipation grows. I have increased my intensity this year but do not know how I will do. I hope for better than my performance last year at IM FL, but my ultimate goal is now to break 11 hours. It may be too much of a jump from last year as IM FL is a faster course then IM CDA, but you never know until you get out there.