Monthly Archives: October 2008

IM FL 2008: Finally Made It to Panama City Beach

What a pain. I can’t seem to get to Ironman without travel troubles.
I wake up at 3am to get picked up at 4am to get to SFO. My flight is at 6am on Delta; way early, but it gets me in at 330p at Panama City Beach airport. That hopefully means that I won’t be too late there, but little did I know….
Flying coach really stinks. I have no status whatsoever on Delta so I sit packed in with a whole other bunch people going to Atlanta. A few others I notice have triathlon looking clothes or obvious badges of racing like a Vineman hat, or just have that fast, gaunt look about them and wear athletic clothes. I sleep pretty much the whole way and we land in Atlanta.
Then the fun begins.
Our flight from Atlanta to Panama City Beach is delayed. And delayed. And delayed some more. I hang with a bunch of other Ironman racers as we chat and figure out what to do. Then they tell us to go to another gate because they are waiting for an aircraft to arrive from somewhere else and it ain’t getting there in time. The only problem is…the new plane is smaller by 13 seats. Guess who is in the unlucky 13…ME! We trade in our old boarding passes and I get a SEAT REQUESTED stamp on mine. Ack! I stress for about 1.5 hours there. They tell me there are no more flights to PFN until Thursday. Or I have to go to Fort Walton Beach. Ugh!
Side note: In Atlanta airport, they have these mechanical garbage cans. Every 10 minutes or so, they start rumbling and a red light starts flashing on top, and it compacts the garbage in it down. How weird. But useful.

So they finally call for volunteers and offer $400 Delta dollars for switching to another flight. I ask myself, “why would I want $400 on an airline I never fly? Duh!” A few people volunteer. The rest of my newfound Ironman racer buddies all wave goodbye and wish me luck on getting to the race, and board the aircraft. I think this whole thing sucks. I sit. Then they call my name. They ask me if I want to get on the plane or go to Fort Walton and get $400. I pray, and tell them I want to get on now and go to PFN. Miraculously, they let me on.
I get on the plane and my newfound Ironman buddies see me and congratulate me on making it on the plane.
We land about 2.5 hours late. Ken Glah comes to pick me up, and sets me up with my condo.
The condo is pretty huge. Full kitchen, washer/dryer in unit, fantastic view out the porch of the beach. Very nice. Better than I thought.
But the condo complex sits in a part of America I thought was almost mythical; Panama City Beach is a heaven of cheap tourism; the strip is lined with fast food chains of nice, greasy food; the Titanic is sinking in a huge mockup of it at Ripley’s Believe It or Not; two huge neon cranes sit across our parking lot with a big sign that says SLINGSHOT where they launch you into the sky attached only by bungee cords. Being off season, the place is totally dead. By the way, it’s totally FREEZING here. Last night, it dropped into the high 30s. As the sun was setting, the temps were dipping into the 40s. Good thing I brought some wool clothes; still I felt chilled and I was reminded of Ironman Brazil where the weather was similar and I never could feel totally warm. Same here at Panama City Beach.
Ken and I head to Walmart and get lots of groceries. I also go buy something I totally forgot: a digital camera! Sucks. I gotta take pics and upload them for my training blog fans. So I plunk down $280 and get another one. What I do for my adoring readers….(sigh).
Later, my buddy Dan arrives and we go have dinner at Hooters. How nice to be served by women wearing low cut tank tops…except that most of them were…well…hefty. Guess all the hot women left Panama City Beach when summer was over…
Tomorrow, I hit the expo and get my bike from TriBike Transport. More later.

IM FL 2008: Weather Outlook Lookin’ Great

Check out the Panama City Beach weather report.
It’s forecast to be a high of 74 and low of 54, mostly sunny. Thank god. Two years ago, apparently it was cold and rainy the whole day. That would definitely make for a miserable race. I have yet to race in the rain and know that someday I will, but I hope that day is far far FAR in the future (or better yet, never).
Here I sit Sunday morning, gathering all my things in preparation for the race. I’m stuffing all this stuff into ziploc bags and hope I don’t forget anything (like my aero helmet last year DUH!). Also, I do hope my bike arrives in one piece via TriBike Transport. Seeing it leave my sight last weekend was tough!
After 4 Ironmans, I don’t have much anticipation any more, but rather the stoicism of having done a few of these before. I’m sure I’ll get more amped when I get to Panama City Beach.

IM FL 2008: Got That Gaunt Look Again

About 5 weeks ago, I went to a dinner party with friends. One of my friends whom I haven’t seen in a while looked at me and remarked that I looked like I was sick or something.
There’s that gaunt look again. Every race, about a month before, my skin starts pulling tight against my frame. My fat starts to fly off, although I don’t see much change in my weight until about a few days right before the race. Then it drops precipitiously. It happens every time. It’s a natural bodily reaction to peaking for an Iron distance race. Get all that decelerating fat off me; get slim and ready to move fast and for a long distance too.
Man, that gaunt look makes me look like I have some serious illness. But it’s just a normal thing. No big deal. Will get back to Fat Dave after the race. Haha.

IM FL 2008: Sorry Accelerade, Switching to First Endurance EFS

Well these last weeks have been a bit tortuous. Not because of pain in my muscles due to training though. It’s been through my sports drink.
On my long runs, I’ve always used Accelerade lemon-lime. But this year, I’ve been having major stomach problems. Two things, one definite, and one hypothetical. First, Accelerade tends to froth up when shaken. So when I’m running, my body movement causes Accelerade in my Fuel Belt to develop bubbles. I suck down the drink, plus the bubbles; then I get gas in my stomach. Very bad. Second, Accelerade has soy protein in it. I think this is the second problem where my digestion has come to reject soy protein during physical activity. This has caused some diarrhea problems post-runs.
I switched to First Endurance EFS. It doesn’t use soy protein. Also, when its taste is very light compared to Accelerade. I seem to like less taste these days than more; then I don’t get a gummy feeling in my mouth which makes me more thirsty. Most importantly, when you shake it up, it doesn’t froth. It remains an unbubbly fluid.
Yesterday I went for a great 2:49 run over almost 18 miles. I accelerated each of 3 six mile loops and had zero stomach problems. Voila! Found my new sports drink!
Sorry Accelerade. I loved and used you for many years, but my digestion doesn’t tolerate you any more.

IM FL 2008: The Build to Peak

Here I sit, thinking about my buddies going to the Ironman Championships this coming weekend in Kona. As I think of them and their upcoming race, I reflect back on my peak for Ironman Florida.
It’s been a long training season. I haven’t raced at all and have been focusing on building for IM FL. It’s been a pretty good training year, although with minimal setbacks. It’s also been extremely hot for Northern California as for almost two months straight, it’s been 90+ degrees almost every day. Only recently has it cooled down which is nice for training fast, but not so great for heat acclimatization. I checked on the typical weather at IM FL and it’s relatively cool, so maybe that’s a good thing that I’m heading to IM FL and not Kona which will be super hot as usual.
This is my fourth year of Ironman, having completed four Ironmans. I can see where my body has adapted to the stress even more, and it feels like such a slow process to build my body to tolerate such stress.
Over the last 2 months, I’ve been running 2-3.5 hours each week, which is something that I never would have been able to do in the past. This last Friday was a big deal for me; I ran three 6 mile loops and was able to descend the loops by 2 minutes each time, accelerating across 18 miles. Very important; I am determined to have more tolerance at higher mileages this year and to not be mentally (or physically) challenged when I hit the second half of the Ironman marathon. The only way to practice that is to run 13+ miles, and then keep going.
Never would I have been able to train this way when I first started out. But my body has adapted and this year I was able to do this for weeks on end without injury. Very thankful for that.
But on top of that running, I also cycled hills across 6.5 hours on Saturday. I was able to climb Kings Mountain twice, then go over to Old La Honda and climb that twice, and still be able to race out onto Canada Rd and back home without feeling too depleted. This is also important; at Ironman Austria the hills destroyed my legs and hitting the marathon after all that really sucked. I was determined to never let that happen again! Still, IM FL has very little hills and I just need to maintain watts across a very long period of time. Racing flats is harder than you think; I found out at IM WA last year.
So lots of great adaptation to Ironman level stress this year. As my friends tell me, you have to train so that when you get to race day, the race seems easy. But to get to the point of being able to tolerate training that is MORE INTENSE than your race – well that took me about 4 years to get here, plus not to mention about 3 years of less-than-Ironman distance training before that.
It took a lot of time and patience across SEVEN YEARS, but the end result was extremely rewarding. I hope to see my PR improve at my upcoming race.