Monday, November 17, 2008

good news/bad news

Got the biopsy from my back surgery and all is clear

have to wait another 3 weeks before I can train hard swimming for sure

hammered on my computrainer today....don't tell anyone!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A little change of plans

Had a minor surgery on my back which will knock me out of any serious training for about 2 weeks. so will reset and start in earnest in the latter part of November. anders and I are signing up for the Carlsbad marathon (him) and half-marathon (me) on 1/25.....can't wait.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Back to work

Well I've greatly enjoyed my down time since IMCAN--most needed physically and more importantly, mentally. I'm ready to get back to it.

The last 10 weeks I've exercised whenever and whatever i felt like doing which has worked out to about 10 hours a week of easy stuff. Nothing in the pool.

My forward plan is to use November and December as transition months so that by the time I hit january I'm full bore again. I officially start tomorrow and have teed up a nice 17 hour training week with 3 pool sessions again.

My knee is finally feeling a little better after my last Syn-Visc injections so hopefully it will stand up.

My plan again is to focus on sprints in 2009 and on speed over diatance in my workouts.

That said, I've signed up for 3 races in 2009 (I expect that list to grow to 18-20): Eagleman, Columbia and the Philly Sprint....

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

IMC Race Report

2008 Ironman Canada
Race Report


This race, my ninth triathlon of the 2008 season and 73rd of my career, was contested on August 24th, 2008, exactly 6 weeks after I completed IM Austria. I was racing both in the M50-54 AG and the CEO division. The latter represented my best chance for snagging a Kona slot—which was my pre-race goal. I figured I’d need an 11:30 or so to do so.

After about 10 days of recovery post IM Austria I was able to get in three pretty solid training weeks. I felt reasonably good and had a couple of 120+ mile rides and 18-mile runs. I then tapered for two weeks or so. Although I felt reasonably good it was hard to tell how fit I was with the IM Austria taper/recovery and then the IMC taper.

I flew to Vancouver on Tuesday of race week. I arrived late and drove about an hour east of Vancouver where I crashed for the night. Up early on Wednesday I arrived in Penticton around 9:30 and checked into the Penticton Lake Lodge right at the race site. I spent several hours getting unpacked and putting together my overly complicated BMC TT01—the latter task was quite frustrating but ultimately accomplished.

I drove the bike course and went for a run and settled in for race week. I was solo for the first time at an IM and as a result I spent a lot of the time quietly lying around. I did have a number of events associated with the CEO Challenges group and through them met Bryan Rhodes and Jasper Blake (the 2006 IMC winner). On Friday I did the Underpants Run, which was a lot of fun. I completed several rides, runs and swims and on Saturday checked my bike in—I was locked and loaded.

The weather and forecasts leading up to race day were all over the place. It had been very hot, in fact reaching over 100 degrees the week before the race. Race day however was predicted to be mild and generally overcast with increasing wind and then rain as the day progressed. I was hopeful the later would hold off until I had descended out of the mountains and was out on the run course—the challenges of IMAUS’ rainy bike ride were still fresh in my memory.

On race morning, I was up at 3:30 courtesy of a pre-arranged phone call from Judy who was back in NYC moving Kara into her new dorm at NYU. I did my usual breakfast thing and went down to check my bike and pump-up the tires. It was about 60 degrees with a mostly clear sky. I took advantage of the proximity of my hotel and went back to my room and rested quietly until about 6:20 when I donned my wetsuit and went down to join the festivities.

The Swim

After getting zipped up I proceeded down to the water’s edge. With no one there to root for me I was all business. I jumped in and did a few warm-up pulls. I felt pretty good. The pros started at 6:45 and I moved way over to the far left (away from the buoy line) to avoid both the rocks on the right and some of the early moshpit of the swim. Pete Reid was tasked with firing the starting cannon, which was pretty cool. Pete had told me before the race he was adopting me and that he would be my number one fan during the race—two claims which did not pan out.

Finally at 7am the cannon sounded and I was off for yet another IM—my 6th in 45 months. Pre-race jitters quickly disappear for me in the IM swim, as I get very focused on tactical race management. I was intent on avoiding problems and at the same time quickly finding a good group to draft off. I was pretty successful at this and soon settled into a nice rhythm. Every now and then I’d get whacked or I’d lose my draft feet but I’d quickly adjust and the swim was generally without drama. Par for an IM swim.

The swim at IMC is a fresh water swim in Okanagan Lake—a beautiful body of water situated in a valley between mountain ridges near Penticton. It was very reminiscent of the Worther See where we swam for IMAUS. Two permanent buoys mark the swim course so it was accurate and the distances to the turn buoys was known. IMC features a one-lap swim that is basically a big isosceles triangle.

As I swam out to the first turn buoy I became aware of some chop and guessed that the wind was already picking up. The wind was into us and on my non-breathing side so it wasn’t that much of a nuisance.

I knew that the first leg was 1612 meters long, which is about 42% of the 3862-meter swim. My target was 30 minutes which I knew would put me on a 72 swim pace and I figured with a little slow-down towards the end I’d likely end up in the 73-74 minute range which was fine with me. I hit the turn and glanced at my watch and saw 29:55 and felt really good about the race so far!

The second leg was a short 450-meter jaunt to the second turn buoy where we would head for home. It was very congested here as the wide dispersed field at the start (at least 100 meters) had now compressed to just 5-10 meters. There was a lot of bumping and some nimrod decided he needed to swim over me on his way to a 70+ minute swim. I wasn’t phased but kept plugging along. I hit the second turn and pointed for transition, which was 1800 meters away.

We spread out again and there was little drama the rest of the way. I think I did a reasonable job of drafting and swimming straight although I clearly needed to make several mid-course adjustments to tweak my line. I was very aware of a surprising amount of fatigue as we approached and passed the one-hour mark of the swim. I was more tired than I should have been and I could tell I was slowly down. Maybe my swim fitness was off with all the give and take before and after IMAUS. I wasn’t that bothered by this development, as I knew my swim would be good enough to put me into contention.

I hit the beach at 76:22 with an average HR of 151 bpm. While the former led to momentary disappointment, the latter was pretty much on target—152 being my target for an IM swim. This was my 3rd fastest IM split behind IMFL07 (66 minutes) and IMAUS08 (74 minutes)—so not a bad outcome, but definitely a few minutes slower than I expected. Oh well—I was immediately focused on executing a quick and precise transition.

Competitively I was 70th (out of 172) in my AG, which was at the 60 %-tile. Overall I was 1097th out of 2063—which put me slightly behind the median swimmer. These stats tell me I had an off swim day.

On the CEO front, things were more interesting. There were two slots available for the 11 of us competing in this race within a race. The first went to the outright winner and the 2nd, to the person who finished best relative to their AG. Since, I was the 2nd oldest of this group, the latter slot was a distinct advantage for me. As it turned out, I was the 7th fastest CEO (although we were tightly bunched) but relative to my AG I was in 3rd after the swim). Here is how the top CEO’s stacked up after the swim:

1. Downs 68:34 71.1 %-tile
2. Vandaele +2:44 55.8
3. Palowitch +5:43 61.7
4. Rebus +7:03 43.2
5. Herkelman +7:11 25.3
6. Ceci +7:29 40.4
7. Christofferson +7:50 59.9
8. Kelley +11:11 40.4
So, while I was almost 8 minutes down to Downs, I was just a few seconds out of 2nd when the age adjustments were made (you can see how the much younger Vandaele and Herkleman were especially hurt with the age adjustments). I, of-course, knew none of this and was busy hurrying through my transition.

Transition One

I immediately ran past a lot of people coming out of the water. I hit the deck and the strippers had my wetsuit off in no time. I found my bag and elected to avoid the changing tent and just sat down and morphed from swimmer to cyclist very quickly. I jammed my stuff back into a bag, handed it off to a volunteer and ran pretty quickly to my bike, which given my bib number (80) was racked close to the bike start. I grabbed my bike and crossed the mount line. I heard Pete yell; “Go RC” and I looked over and saw him and I waved. I hopped on and I was off.

I had a very good transition. I clocked it at 4:14 (158 average HR) but my official T1 was 3:27. This easily my best IM T1. I had the 13th fastest T1 in my AG (93 %-tile). I was also the 3rd fastest CEO through T1 and was able to pass 3 of my competitors and move into 4th overall. I was now in 2nd with the age adjustment:

1. Downs 68:34
2. Vandaele +3:14
3. Rebus +6:36
4. Christofferson +7:49
5. Herklemen +8:15
6. Palowitch +8:25
7. Ceci +9:23
8. Kelley +13:21

The Bike

I started the bike confident in my ability to make up time on the rest of the field, as it is my strongest of the three disciplines. I was very respectful of the difficulty of the course and planned to ride the first section pretty conservatively to save myself for the difficult climbs that are a feature of the latter portion of this bike course. The IMC bike is a one-loop affair with anywhere from 3-10 significant climbs (depending on how you define significant) and a total net climb of about 8000 feet. I anticipated this to be the toughest of my IM bikes and wanted to carefully meter my energy output.

The first section, through town and out along Skaha Lake, tracks the run course and is pretty flat. However just before the hills of the run course, the bike veers sharply left onto McLean Creek Road, which features a pretty steep (above 10% grade) climb of about a mile or so. I was cruising up this hill, careful to keep my power in the 260-280 watt range when Herkleman, Palowitch and Ceci all came flying by me. This was surprising and unsettling as I considered myself to be a stronger rider than any of them. I consoled myself by concluding they were pushing too hard up this early hill and that they would pay for it later.

As I reached the top of the climb I had a great deal of difficulty shifting from my 39 back up to my 53 front chain ring. I had to play with both derailleurs simultaneously to get it to jump. My front shifter was pegged all the way back and I had a strong feeling that this was going to be a big issue for me down the road. I was worried that when I shifted down again I wouldn’t be able to then get the chain to jump back to the big ring. I tried to put it out of my head and also tried to avoid shifting down as long as I could.

I was playing tag with Herkleman and Palowitch letting them out-climb me and then moving past them on the descents as I tried to even out my power curve. Even in the “flattish” first section to Osoyos there are quite a few up and downs and that combined with a strong headwind (15-20 mph) soon created the need for me to downshift—right before mile 20 on the bike. As I reached the top of this hill the moment of truth arrived and I tried to get the front derailleur to move the chain to the big ring for several minutes but it just would not go.

Bummer! While this is far from the worse thing that could happen on an IM bike, make no mistake this was a serious issue for me. I had over 90 miles to ride with most of the climbing and descending ahead of me. I first thought: there goes my race--I’m hosed. But pretty quickly I settled down and tried to figure out what to do about it. I knew that I could likely fix the problem with the right size Allen wrench (which I didn’t have and couldn’t legally get from my competitors or people along the road). I knew how to fix the problem and it really was just a 30 second cable adjustment that would probably do the trick.

I asked folks around me what they thought I should do and the consensus was to flag down one of the marshals on the motorcycles and see if I could get legal help. I knew there were several “tech” cars out on the course where I could get the problem fixed. (As an aside, I did ask several race marshals and none of them could help me and I did not see the techies until almost 100 miles into the bike when it was way to late). One fellow suggested I reach down and change it by hand while I was riding—but to be careful because it was possible I could get my fingers caught in the chain or spokes with somewhat negative consequences. I decided to reject this approach.

Since I had driven the course I had a pretty good mental image of what was ahead of me and I decided to try to ride as long as I could in the ring I was in and then when warranted, I’d dismount and change it by hand. Hop back on and ride it as long as I could before I had to change it again. I could change from big to small ring by shifting but had to use my hand to go from small to big.

I had to spend the next 15 miles or so to the bottom of Richter in my small chain ring as there were quite a few short climbs and I didn’t want to fry my legs pushing too big a gear. Many times I spun out and had to coast where normally I would have hammered it down a descent. Because of this I lost my advantage relative to the other CEOs and soon fell further and further behind them. This did not brighten my spirits but I decided I would just deal with it and not worry about them. I needed to focus all of my energy on making it through the bike and avoiding a DNF if I could. Every now and then I’d try the front shifter again but it was basically useless extra weight on my bike now. I passed Rebus, which was a bit of good news for the home team.

I finally reached the bottom of Richter, which is a moderate (6% or so—some places a little steeper) seven mile climb that gains a little over 1200 feet in elevation. I was in the right gear and focused my mind on a steady 250-260 watt climb. I soon caught Herklemen and Palowitch and my spirits rose as I thought I could work around the derailleur problem if I was smart about it.

We crossed the 42.5-mile checkpoint and here is how the CEO competition stacked up:

1. Vandaele 3:20:39
2. Downs +3:53
3. Ceci +4:28
4. Christofferson +9:36
5. Palowitch +10:30
6. Herklemen +10:33
7. Rebus +15:42
8. Kelley +18:43

Had I known this I would have been very encouraged. Despite my problems I was hanging in there and was now probably in the lead after the age adjustment. Of course, I had no idea and was too consumed with the challenges at hand to think about it.

Richter, despite its reputation, was not too great of a challenge. Soon, however, I found myself on the long descent after the pass. I elected to not dismount and change the ring because I knew Richter was soon to be followed by the “Seven Bitches” a series of demanding rollers where I would need my small ring to climb over them. I resigned myself to being over-geared for much of the next 15-20 miles.

It was frustrating to coast down the descent and have countless cyclists cruise past me including Palowitch and Herklemen. This frustration was periodically interspersed with terror as my speeds would jump up above 40 mph and I tried to control my speed with wind braking.

I was soon into the “Bitches” and this was by far the most frustrating part for me. Rollers are a real strength for me—I ride on them all the time in Delaware and it was here that I had planned to bring my effort up and put a move on my competitors. I wanted to hammer the descents and then drive up the early part of the climbs to conserve my kinetic energy. I was unable to do this stuck in my small ring and I felt like I was losing 30+ seconds on every roller. I was counting the rollers trying to figure out when to get off and shift back.

I tried to push the envelope a bit by getting very low on the descents and pushing my butt out behind my seat to maximize my descending speed. At one point this very nearly got out of hand as I realized I was going much too fast—I glanced down at my speedo and saw 48.6 mph and just about freaked out. There were strong crosswinds and with my deep rims I’d catch a solid sideways push every now and then. (As an aside, my BMC was rock solid on this whole ride—well excepting the derailleur). I backed off from then on—it just wasn’t worth it—at that speed my triathlon days would be over if I went down.

I should digress a bit at this point. I’ve focused in my commentary on my gearing problems because that was basically all that I was really thinking about during this time. But another, and ultimately bigger, problem had developed. The forecasted rain had not come and the sun was shining and it actually was quite warm out on the bike course—it reached 85 degrees. This combined with a very strong wind—now 25+ mph in places was creating the potential for dehydration. I thought I was doing a good job of hydrating but apparently I was falling further and further behind the hydration curve. Either I wasn’t drinking enough or I wasn’t absorbing enough into my body to keep up with my sweat rate. I had to pee three times during the bike so at the time I thought I was doing a good job, but as we shall see, I was not.

I finally got through the rollers and approached the infamous “out-and-back”, a 15-mile, relatively flat section that is universally despised by people racing this course. I, however, was very eager to get here, as I was able to hop off my bike and change back over to my big ring for the first time in 50 miles. While, I would have liked to drop down 6-8 times over the next 15 miles I just left it in the big ring and tried to make up for lost time.

I still felt good and pushed it hard in this section—perhaps too hard. I was encouraged when I re-passed Herklemen and Palowitch and thought that I might be able to catch one or two of the others as I had now figured out I was in 4th, but within striking distance. I was in attack mode again and after the nightmare of the last 2+ hours it felt great.

After the out and back to Cawston you return to route 3A and head to the bottom of the Yellow Lake/Twin Lake climb. I got off my bike several times in this section to change my chain ring. A couple of times I would do so only to have to shift again as I wasn’t as familiar with the course as I would have liked. This was frustrating and on top of that my hands were covered in grease. Herklemen passed me again and my spirits sagged a bit. I was now aware that it was very warm and that I was dehydrated. The cold calculus in my brain told me that I might be in for a rather tough time come the marathon. I could see storm clouds on the horizion but figured they would not come into play until I hit the run.

I pushed up the big Yellow Lake climb. This is quite long (you’re more or less climbing for about 15 miles) but not nearly as steep (except in a couple of sections) as Richter. I could now clearly feel the fatigue in my legs and I just wanted to get through the bike and find out if I had anything left for the run. The Ironman has a way of stripping you down to your bear essentials and it was certainly having its way with me today.

I hit Yellow Lake (which by the way is green) and stayed in my small ring because I knew there was one last steep pitch up to Twin Lake. At the top I jumped off yet again and changed the chain and started my descent. I noticed pretty quickly that something was wrong as I was spinning out at 25 mph. WTF? I looked down and saw the chain had jumped back down to the small ring. Since I was at the top of about a 12-mile descent I had to brake and come to a stop (with people flying by me at 40+ mph) and do the job again—this time successfully. It was one of those days but I was thankful to avoid any collisions during this maneuver.

I rode pretty well on the descent but since I was fatigued I was reasonably conservative—no sense risking crashing now--I figured most of the damage was already done. I wasn’t able to drink as much as I would have liked either as I felt it more important to have both of my hands engaged in avoiding a 40+ mph crash. I was distinctly dehydrated now and I knew (unfortunately) what that meant.

Finally I was down out of the mountains and cruised down Main Street to the bike finish. It was a difficult, challenging ride but I took some satisfaction in knowing I had persevered and made it to T2. I completed the bike in 5:43:29, which worked out to be 19.6 mph on average. I averaged 185 watts, which is 15-30 below my target—probably a function of all the coasting I did. My HR averaged 143bpm, which was also below my target of 152. This was my 4th fastest IM bike split, but was my fastest on the three hilly courses I’ve done (Wisconsin, Austria and Canada).

Competitively, I had the 30th fastest bike split in my AG (versus 7th at IMFL and I felt I was in better bike shape for this race). Overall I had the 473rd fastest bike split, which is very disappointing (but understandable given my problems). The CEO race was now very interesting and I had moved into the lead for the age-adjusted slot:

1. Ceci 6:47:55 80.4 %
2. Downs +5:20 75.0
3. Vandaele +9:42 72.8
4. Herkelmen +11:44 58.2
5. Christofferson +16:15 81.4
6. Palowitch +18:30 76.1
7. Kelley +41:12 58.3
8. Rebus +44:08 42.5

As I was rolling into town I saw Ceci and figured I was probably about 15 minutes or so down. I didn’t see any of the other CEOs, as the early part of the run course is different than the end of the bike course. I also knew that with an elapsed time of 7:04, if I were to run a 4:30 or so, perhaps even slower I would snag the second Kona spot. Palowitch, Downs and Ceci all had to beat me by 45 minutes or so to outplace me relative to my AG. Vandaele by over an hour and the only way Herkelmen was going to get a slot was to win it outright (he’s 32 years old). I was vaguely aware of this as I dismounted but mostly I was concerned about being dehydrated and whether or not I’d be able to run well.

Transition Two

I did pretty well in T2—not as strong as T1 but I held my own. I had it at 3:31 with an average HR of 132 but officially it was 3:27—the exact same as my T1! This was right in the mix of the CEOs and the race standings were unchanged as we started the run:

1. Ceci 6:50:09
2. Downs +7:45
3. Vandaele +10:24
4. Herkelmen +12:32
5. Christofferson +17:28
6. Palowitch +24:31
7. Kelley +44:22
8. Rebus +45:35

As I started the run, I knew that I would find out pretty soon if any of this mattered.

The Run

My plan for the IMC marathon was to open up with a first mile in the 9:00-9:30 range. At IMAUS I went out to fast on my way to a 2:01 half-marathon split. I thought this was too hard given my run fitness and thought if everything was going well I’d be better off with a 2:05-2:08 half-marathon.

The early part of the IMC run is flat and features an out and back along Lakeshore Drive hard on the shores of Okanagan Lake. The course then joins the early part of the bike course heading out of town on Main Street and then along the shores of Skaha Lake. Just past where the bike course veers off to McLean Creek Road, the run course continues along the lake through Skaha Estates to the turn around at Okanagan Falls. This last section—about 8 miles in total is an extremely difficult run section. There are plenty of big and steep climbs from mile 9 to about mile 17. This is certainly the most difficult IM run course I’ve seen, and in-fact one of the hardest run courses I’ve raced on through all my races down through the years. The course is very scenic and the crowds typically great, especially over the last 4 miles of the out and back course.

After leaving transition and running along the lake I’m aware of a lot of fatigue in my legs. It’s hard to tell if this is transition related or more endemic. I try to be conservative in the first mile but am disappointed when my first split is 9:42 (147 bpm HR). I drink as much as I can stomach at the excellently stocked aid station and try to keep at it hoping my legs will return.

However, things do not get better and my second mile comes in just under 11 minutes. Its becoming increasingly evident to me that I’m in a fair amount of trouble and that my marathon is going to be a real challenge. I decide that I need to not worry about my competitors and instead focus on finding a sustainable “survivable” pace. I elect to begin mixing walking and running even at this early stage. The skies have grown more overcast and ominous and wind has picked up considerably. It’s clear the storm front is finally about to arrive. I am worried about how this run will go, even at my greatly reduced intensity.

Miles 3-5 go by in 12:19, 13:54 and 11:30 respectively. I’m able to get my average HR down to around 130 by mixing walking and running. However, whenever I run my HR spikes into the 150s/160s. I’m FRIED. The dehydration, the bike effort, IMAUS, and who knows what else has left me in no shape to do a marathon. I’m very calm about it but I know the next few hours will be grim. I see Bryan Rhodes grind by on his way to his first IMC win. I call out to him and he acknowledges this with a cross between a smile and a grimace. He looks in a lot of pain.

Out on the shores of Skaha Lake there are whitecaps as the wind is sustainably above 20 mph and dead into our faces. The sky has turned an angry dark grey and it’s starting to rain pretty hard now. I sense that my core body temperature is dropping and I’m growing increasingly concerned about hypothermia given my slow pace. I know I have a long sleeve in my special needs bag at the turnaround. I hope I can get there soon enough.

Miles 6-10 are more of the same: 12:12, 13:07, 13:02, 13:18, 11:52. My HR has settled into the mid 120s, which is all the intensity I can deal with. I try to drink as much as I can but ironically, I feel dehydrated but cold and not thirsty. Mile 11 is real nasty with a particularly long and steep hill. I struggle through a 15:34 mile and almost everyone in the race is walking up this hill. I’m passed by a couple of the CEO competitors and I know my Hawaii dream is long gone. It is not difficult to let go. I tell myself to just hang in there, get to the finish line and then I can take a break from the IM scene for a while—a break that I see I clearly need.

I see Herklemen on his way back to the finish and the CEO win and estimate that he is around an hour ahead of me. Soon the others follow. My 12th and 13th miles are 11:25 and 13:29 and I hit the half-marathon split at 2:46:08. My elapsed time is now 9:53:45. I calculate that I have to “run” 14-minute miles or so to break 13 hours. I sure don’t want to go over 13 but I sense this may not be in my control.

I grab my special needs bag and put on my long sleeve shirt. It’s raining pretty hard and this helps. I try to eat a candy bar that I had put in the bag and almost throw up. It’s clear my body is rebelling. The next six miles are some of the toughest I’ve ever faced. My mile splits are: 13:53, 15:26, 14:40, 15:25, 16:02 and 17:04. My HR has fallen into the low 100s as I struggle to just keep a decent pace while I walk. I keep running some each mile but this is little more than a shuffle.

My 20th mile is 16:29 and I know I’ve fallen way behind a 13 hour pace. I guess I have to run sub 13s and even this seems like a difficult task. The storm has now blown through and while the rain is now just a drizzle, the wind has flipped 180 degrees and it is still bellowing strongly in our faces—great! 20 mph headwinds the whole way on an out and back! I actually chuckle about this. As an aside, I did all sorts of things to amuse myself and manage the struggle like creating a list of my top 20 songs of all time (Stairway to Heaven, Suite Judy Blue Eyes, Sounds of Silence….). I also try to talk to other competitors and all of the volunteers (who are amazing—the best I’ve ever seen!) and this helps.

Well, with just a 10k to get through and the tough part of the course behind me, I decide to try to go a little faster at one point during my 21st mile. Low and behold I run a 13:51. As pathetic as that sounds I am encouraged because it seems like my body has caught up with its hydration deficit. I decide to run most of the 22nd mile and I post an 11:26. My HR spikes a couple of times into the 150s so I know I’m still fried but I begin to think I might be able to rally and maybe just squeak in under 13 hours. I toss my long sleeve and I’m back in business.

On Main Street now and benefiting from the growing crowds my spirits begin to rise. My 23rd mile is only 13:44 but it had several up-hill sections. I “push” my 24th mile and do an 11:41. I run the math and I know if I stay on it I can break 13 hours. I get that end of an IM feeling where I know I will make it and that despite all the struggling and the failed expectations I’m about to finish something I’ll always remember and be proud of.

Mile 25 flashes by in 11:45 and I’m running down Lakeshore and I can see the finish ahead. The street is densely packed—in some places 3-4 deep. My heart and feet lift and I’m running pretty well now—certainly the best I have in 5 hours. I have the finishing chute to myself and Riley calls out my name and gives me the “You are an Ironman” thing—which this time I clearly hear (it’s always been a blur before). I break the tape at 12:56:40 with a 5:49:03 marathon (which objectively is horrible and comparatively is slower than my bike). Ted Kennedy from CEO Challenges throws a very cool medal around my neck.

A couple of volunteers grab me and ask me how I’m doing. I tell them I’m fine—not to worry about me. They ask me what I want to do and I tell them I want to go to the hotel. They ask me if I want my finisher picture taken first and this seems to appeal to me and we begin to walk there and all of a sudden everything spins and they catch me as I begin to collapse. I almost lose consciousness and they support me as I bend over and get my head below my heart. They ask me again if I’m OK and I assure them that I am and that my blood pressure is probably just a little low since I’ve stopped moving.

I’m beginning to shake pretty hard as it’s windy and rainy and I just have my trisuit on (and I’ve been at it for 13 hours) so I decide to forgo the picture. I tell my helpers I’m just going to go to my hotel and I take 2-3 strides in that direction and it’s lights out again—I fall into a fence and they catch me again. I’m aware of what’s happening and I assure them I’m ok but they are no longer listening to me and they get a couple of other people to help and it’s off to the medical tent for me. This is a first time experience for me.

I run into the “triage” doctor first and after a lot of skeptical questioning I am put into the “Walking Wounded” group, which means I get to avoid the cots and IVs crowd. I spend about 45 minutes or so there with a very friendly MD. My blood pressure is indeed very low—80/55 and she keep me there until it rises back up to low normal. As I sit there, my calf muscles are dancing and rippling under my skin as my neuromuscular system has gone a little haywire. She finally concludes that I am suffering from nothing worse than an unhealthy obsession and I am pronounced free to go.

As I exit the tent into the night I realize that I am very cold and that I need to get to my hotel room as soon as possible. Since I’m by myself I also have to claim all of my gear by midnight but I decide that can wait until after a nice warm shower. By the time I reach the hotel lobby I am shaking very hard and attracting more than a few stares. The elevator ride to the 2nd floor and the long walk down the hallway seem interminable but I finally make it. I grab my key that I had hid this morning in the fire extinguisher door and I’m in my room. I head straight into the bathroom and crank on the shower. I’m shaking very hard now and as I bend over to get my socks and shoes off first one and then both of my calves go into violent cramps. I fall to the bathroom floor and am unable to straighten my legs and stand up for quite some time. At least 4-5 minutes. This is just great. Here I am writhing on the floor, freezing just 2 feet from a nice warm shower and I can’t get there.

I really focus on getting my legs straight and finally do. I carefully climb into the shower with all of my race gear still on and relief begins to come. I stay in the shower for at least 15 minutes and I begin to warm-up. I strip down and leave my clothes at the bottom of the shower. When I’m done I quickly head to the bedroom where I have some warm clothes which I put on as I’m beginning to shake again. I climb into bed and go completely under the covers and shiver and shake for another 15 minutes or so. Finally I gain control of my body temperature. The worst has passed.

The rest of the evening was far less dramatic. I called home and to Anders to let them know I was alive. I went back downstairs and got my bike and all the other stuff. I made it back to my room and tried to eat a hamburger and drink some beer—not much luck at either and finally crashed after watching the final finishers on local TV.

Post Race

I felt a lot better the next morning and joined the CEOs for an awards breakfast. I new I wasn’t in the top 2 CEO spots for a Kona slot and I had agreed with Judy that morning that even if one rolled to me I would turn it down. My body (and my family) needed a break—three IMs in 13 weeks would be just too much—especially when one of them was Hawaii.

Ted told me I was in the 4th slot. Herkelmen turned his slot down (baby on the way) and I realized that if one of the other guys turned their slot down it would roll to me. I said to myself,”Oh no—how can I turn this down?” However, I was spared the agony of this decision when the next two guys took their slots. Who knows what might have happened down that other path….

Bryan Rhodes and Desiree Ficker presented me with an awesome 50+ champion trophy (never has so much been given for so little!). I said goodbye to my new friends and over the next 36 hours packed up, drove to Vancouver and flew home.

I’ve decided to take a triathlon break for the rest of 2008. I need it physically and even more so mentally. This regroup and recharge period will pay dividends in 2009. This fall my athletic focus will be on running as fast as I can in a 5k. I’m going to focus mostly on running for the next 4-5 months and see if I can’t reclaim some of the running speed I enjoyed in my younger days.

I plan on focusing on smaller and shorter triathlons in 2009—kind of a get back to my roots thing. I’ll not race an IM in 2009 and instead race a lot more times in these fun races. It will be great to reconnect with the local triathlon community and rekindle some old competitive rivalries. The training required to support this is different and far less time consuming (though still challenging) and I hope after a successful sprint season in 2009, I can once again return and see if I can take another crack at the Ironman and maybe even Kona. Until then, I’ll enjoy the IM vacation!

Peace be,


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Time to come home!

I went to the award ceremony last night and it turned out to be a very enjoyable affair. I sat with the CEO group again and we laughed and talked and enjoyed some good local swill. I had a chance to talk to a bunch of triathlete types as well including a real nice talk with Mark Van Arken who led the race through the swim and bike and into the run. It was interesting hearing what the race looked like through his eyes.

Afterwards we went to the Barking Parrot in the hotel and we hoisted a couple more beers. I spent most of the evening chatting with Graham Fraser about all things Ironman. Bryan hung out with us--still on cloud nine from his victory--it was nice to toast his success and share it with him. I said goodbye to my new friends around 11--for some reason I'm a little sore and tired.

Up this morning to grab some breakfast, load up and hit the road. Apparently the southern route back to Vancouver, although longer, is more scenic and now that IMC is behind me I'm all about the scenic route....

Monday, August 25, 2008

Day after

I feel remarkably good considering the rough hour I had after the finish last night. I just read Anders' hijack of the blog and it was fun to read!

I talked to Judy and we agreed that if the slot rolled to me then I should turn it down. This does make sense given the physical toll these IM races are taking on my body. when I went to the awards breakfast this morning I prayed it didn't come to that because that would be a heavy mental conflict for me. when the first fellow turned his slot down I thought, oh no--here we go. But fortunately the next two guys took them and saved me the agony of that decision.

Bryan and Desiree Flicker had breakfast with us and Bryan presented me a ridiculously large and beautiful trophy for my triumph as the fastest 50+ CEO. Never has the trophy/performance ratio been so out of proportion! Anyways, it was pretty cool getting the trophy from the race winner and getting my pic snapped with the pros. We had a very pleasant breakfast and i feel like I made some nice contacts with some like minded folks from around the world. I told Bryan that he was welcome to home stay with us the next time he does Eagleman (he stayed in Wilmington a couple of years ago).

I took my bike apart which is a lot easier than putting it together and packed up. I'm hitting the awards banquet tonight and then heading to Vancouver and back home tomorrow....

Venti coffee at Starbucks

Hey gang--good morning. sorry for not getting on last night--the internet was down in my hotel and I just didn't feel like going for a walk--at a starbucks this morning working on my recovery.

I'll give you the details latter but here are the highlights: Decent, but a little slow swim--definitely fatigued over the last 1000 meters, but got the job done. Tried to be conservative early on the bike but then my front deraileur went out of commission at about 15 miles in. I could not shift from small to big ring. this obviously didn't help but I worked around it by getting of my bike and moving the chain by hand a bunch of times and by riding in the wrong chain ring for a lot of the race. I knew I was fried right from the start of the run and quickly went into survival mode. I was significantly dehydrated from the bike (this is an on-going problem for me) and it took me most of the "run" to catch up. I was on an over 13 hour pace at 22 when my ego kicked in and I ran pretty hard (considering) down the stretch to sneak in under 13 for a small victory. This led to about an hour in the med tent as my blood pressure plummeted pst race. I got VERY cold and had some intense muscle cramps so post race this was my hardest IM.

I didn't get the job done on Kona--the bike issues hurt but I'm not sure it would have made any difference as I was way behind the hydration curve. This is a blessing in disguise because it would be stupid of me to try to do Hawaii in 7 weeks--my body has had enough. doing 2 in 6 weeks probably wasn't that good of an idea either. anyways, I'm now on an IM sabatical--at least for next year and looking forward to hoisting a few with many of you (or is that hoisting many with a few of you) when I return.



Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ironman Canada Live Update: 9

Our guy has finished! That's Ironman #6 for RC in a time of 12:56:40. I know he must have drilled it in the end to get under 13, solid work!

The CEO challenge is complicated in the way that they award slots. We will need to see the final results, but I think it is possible that RC snagged the second Kona spot.

Either way, that was another solid day at the office. My Dad has put in endless work to be able to compete in these things and I know he must be psyched to have finished another one.

Dad, I'm proud of you for gutting it out when things got tough. This race was another example of your strength as an athlete and determination. Congrats on the finish!!!


Ironman Canada Live Update: 8

Ok so we have most of the CEOs through the first half of the marathon. Judging from the times it looks like its a tough day out there. Reports from the course indicate high wind and warm tempuratures, which are definitely not helping.

RC ran his first half in 2:46:08. I know he was hoping for a bit faster on the first half, so hopefully he isn't experiencing any serious problems. However, it seems that many of the CEOs might have gone out to hard on the bike and have the potential to blow up on the run.

Cum time through 13 miles.

Ceci(78): 8:54:15
Herkelman (79): 8:56:37
Downs (81): 9:10:28
Vandaele (85): 9:10:30
Palowitch(82): 9:23:29
Kelley (83): 9:33:04
Christofferson(80): 9:54:19
(other CEOs are not through the halfway mark yet)

RC is in a tough spot right now, but he is one tough determined athlete. I'm sure however much he is hurting he is giving it his absolute best and getting one step closer to the finish. Time to beam him some energy for the last half. LETS GO!!


Ironman Canada Live Update: 7

Pro Update. Bryan Rhodes wins it!! Rhodes is definitely the man. My Dad had dinner with him earlier in the week so that has to be a good sign for the big man.

About 40 minutes or so until we get some run updates from the CEOs..


Ironman Canada Live Update: 6

Back in business. Many of the CEO's are coming in from the bike and heading out into the run. RC had a very solid ride of 5:44. He basically even split both halves, and given the difficulty of the back half of the bike shows how strong he rode.

Here is the field at the beggining of the run:
Athlete(bib#): Bike time/ Cum Time

Vandaele (85): 5:33:13/ 6:47:29
Ceci(78): 5:26:30/ 6:47:55
Downs (81): 5:41:23/ 6:53:25
Herkelman (79): 5:39:22/ 6:59:39
Christofferson(80): 5:44:19/ 7:05:09
Palowitch(82): 5:45:58/ 7:06:25


As expected, it is all coming down to the run. RC is right in the thick of things and a good run split could get him his kona slot. The first time check on the run is at 13 miles, which should give us a good indication of how things are going.


Ironman Canada Live Update: 5

Well this is frustrating. and Ironman live are both down at the moment so we have no way of tracking. My guess is the top CEO challenge athletes are in the last few miles of the bike. I will keep checking and hope to have this updated in the next 30 minutes.

We do know that the pros are on the run and Marky V leading the field.

More Later


Ironman Canada Live Update: 4

What a race we have going on!

Through 42.5 miles on the bike and the CEOs are all within minutes of each other. RC had a solid first bike segment of 2:10:21, which is about a 19.56mph average. The back end of this bike course gets tough, and my guess is RC is smartly pacing early to build late into the ride.

Here is where the competitors are at the moment:

(cum time through 42.5 miles)

Vandaele (85): 3:20:39
Downs (81): 3:24:26
Ceci(78): 3:25:07
Christofferson(80): 3:30:12
Palowitch(82): 3:31:06
Herkelman (79): 2:31:19
Rebus(77): 3:36:21
Kelley(83): 3:34:12

So it looks like RC is riding strong in 4th about 6 minutes down from the leader. We will know more by the next check point at 80 miles..


Ironman Canada Live Update: 3

Quick update. The last 2 competitors in the CEO challenge are out of the water.

Osburn(76): 1:21:19/11:40 1:32:59
Daly(59): 1:27:58/5:45 1:33:43

These two are a ways back, but it's the Ironman so you never know what will happen.

I'm off for a bike ride and will update when I get back..


Ironman Canada Live Update: 2

Update from the swim.

It looks like some solid swim times were put up with the leaders breaking 46 minutes!

In the CEO division this is turning into quite the race. The leader came out in 1:08 and then a group of about 5 athlete came in around the 1:15-17 mark. RC had a very solid swim of 1:16:24, which put him in a good position to hunt some people down on the bike.

Here is what is looks like for the CEOs heading onto the bike:

Name(Bib#): Swim Time/ T1 cum time

Downs (81): 1:08:34/3:28 1:12:02
Vandaele (85): 1:11:20/2:56 1:14:16
Rebus(77): 1:15:37/3:01 1:18:38
Christofferson(80): 1:16:24/3:27 1:19:51
Herkelman (79): 1:15:45/4:32 1:20:17
Palowitch(82): 1:14:17/6:10 1:20:27
Ceci(78): 1:16:03/5:22 1:21:25
Kelley(83): 1:19:45/5:38 1:25:23

The first bike check comes at 40 miles. My guess is that RC will have steadily moved up the rankings by then and will be putting time into his competitors. More later....


p.s. if anyone has any questions/comments about the progress of the race feel free to shoot me an e-mail at

Ironman Canada Live Report: 1

Good morning sports fans!

This is Anders and I'll be hijacking my Dad's blog today to give some live updates on Ironman Canada. Check back often as I'll be giving info about my Dad's progress as well as his competitors in the 50-54 age group and CEO challenge. You can also follow along at and type in bib #80.

I've got a good feeling about today's race. My Dad has put in some solid work since IM Austria and should be ready to rip!

Currently they are about 25 minutes into the swim. We should have a good idea of how the race is going in about 30 minutes..


Race morning

Hey--I couldn't resist one last note.

Got a nice wake-up call from Judy at 3:15 as she was preparing for her big day moving Kara into NYU--how's that for service!

I slept pretty well despite the noise here--I think all the non-participants were celebrating that their weird obsessive triathletes were finally in bed.

I'm having my traditional pre-race bagels with organic peanut butter and jelly--this is the formula Anders and I have honed through the years. Also drinking my cold Starbucks--pretty good all things considered.

Weather forecasts are somewhat at odds but generally it looks low 60s with mostly cloudy at the start. clouds will build throughout the bike and the temp will rise into the mid 70s with rain expected at some point (hopefully late or at the end of the bike). The wind is forecasted to build to 20-30 mph as the afternoon wears on. I'm actually in favor of the wind--anything that makes the bike longer is good for the home team. That's as long as i control my 808/sub-9 wheels...

anyways good to go--beem me energy....I'll need it!


Saturday, August 23, 2008

At peace with 12 hours to go

Just watched the Men's Olympic Marathon final. What they do in their marathons is something I'm not familiar with when I run mine--wow!

So the sun is setting here on a beautiful evening just 12 hours to game time. It's still quite warm here--about 81 degrees. Supposed to be cooler tomorrow. Now calling for a high of 77 degrees with perhaps some rain to deal with between Richter and Yellow Lake and especially the long decent after Yellow Lake. I'll just have to dial it back a bit if that happens--I've certainly had some practice in this at Austria this year. The good news is that it looks like mid 70s and rain during the run which I'm very OK with.

Beginning to get that pre-race calmness as there isn't much else to do now except getting up, eating and a few last minute set-up activities on the bike. Get the race gear on and go when I hear the cannon. After that the NOW becomes overwhelming and it's just focus on the stoke, pedal or step at hand until they tell you to stop.

I'm in a good place mentally. I pray for a safe race and no mechanical failures on the bike. Beyond that, I'll focus on myself and swim, ride and run within myself and as fast as my body tells me I can go on august 24th, 2008. I'll be aware of my competitors but since I can't play defense all I can do is to do my best and the result will be the result. My goal is to finish. (And to do the best that I can). Everything else that happens will be an outcome that flows from this goal. As I've gotten know the other CEOs as people I've grown to like and admire them. They all have dreams and have worked hard. They have sons and daughters and wives who will be cheering mightily for them to triumph. and will be disappointed if they don't. I can honestly say that I'll be very happy for those who grab Kona slots if they are not me--I'm sure they'll deserve it. I'll also have a lot of sympathy for those that don't. The real reward of tomorrow will be the potential to learn something about myself, to discover a strength, or other asset that I wasn't aware of before or indeed didn't have. The measures of success will all be within me.

Talk to you tomorrow night! Anders may hijack this blog during the race tomorrow with updates....check back if you have interest.

Sleep tight--I will!

Locked and Loaded--21 hours to go!

All systems go! I did my usual Pete Reid day before an IM special this morning. First up was a pleasant 15 minute swim with a few accels. I felt great. Water was a bit nippy--maybe 63 degrees but no worries. It was a beautiful clear, calm morning with the temp about 52 degrees. I ran into Clint Lien who is here camping with Pete and chatted with him for awhile. I hadn't seen him since our Tuscon training camp. He invited me out to join the gang again next spring which sounds real tempting! But that's a story for another day.

Next up was a nice 15 minute run. Felt decent. I hit Starbucks for a Venti (I don't know if it will be good for me physically but mentally I love not doing a coffee taper this time around!). they had a super cool farmer's market on main street and I scored some home made PB cookies--sweet.

Finally, a 30 minute spin and I felt AMAZING. 200-250 watts at about 135-138 bpm HR. of course I only did that for about 10 minutes...but hey, good sign!

Early lunch mtg with the CEO gang then bike and Transition bag check in this afternoon....almost game time!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Penticton at t minus 36 hours

I have to say I love this place. it's beautiful. the course has that epic quality to it. The people are very nice. Every one is pumped. It's easy to see why this race has such an incredible reputation. (I reserve the right to change my opinion on Sunday!)

We had our carbo meal/mtg tonight. Nice, but predictable affair. They closed off Main Street in front of the hotel and there is a big street party in progress with lots of live bands--really fun place for the Iron Support Teams.

Inside of 36 hours now and it looks like pretty favorable weather is shaping up--high of 81 with partly sunny to partly cloudy. Low humidity and 10 mph winds--I'll take that for sure.....

I'm all set for transition set-up tomorrow. Getting close!


So I got up this morning and did the Underpants run at 7:30. This is a great tradition started in Hawaii by Huddle and Frey to poke fun at all the euros (principally) who would show up and race in speedos. We all bought our official BVDs (money goes to a local charity) and then did the Underpants Pledge where we placed our hands over a strategic spot and pledged not to wear speedos in public. We then proceeded to run down to the race start area in the 48 degree weather. Once on the beach we did a bunch of exercises and posed for the crowds and then finished the run.

I hooked up with the CEO crowd again and got my pic snapped with Rhodes and Blake (who will be wearing number 1 on Sunday). We also had our CEO group photo snapped and then had a nice breakfast. I registered and I am planning to spend the afternoon prepping my transition bags. The carbo dinner/mtg is tonight. Here is what the run looked like:

Hanging with Rhoadsy and Jasper. Brian is cool with my underpants but Jasper is a little concerned:

On the beach--deep squats. One. Two. That's enough!

The view from the back of the pack:

RC--getting ready for the UR!

Roch leading the pledge:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thursday Dinner

Had dinner tonight with the CEO Challenges gang--very nice group of folks!

Caught up with Graham Fraser from NA Sports--last time I saw him was when he correctly advised Anders not to continue on with IMAZ. Attending dinner was Bryan Rhodes and Jasper Blake (who won IMC in 2006)--very nice gentlemen. I also talked to Pete after he and the gang touched down in Penticton--nice to chat with him again.

Up early tomorrow for either a swim with Rhodes or the underpants run--decisions, decisions.....

Mellow Mojo

Slept in to 7:40 today--a full nine hours--which is as much as I did in 5 days before IM austria. Nice breakfast at the Lodge and then down to the lake for a 40 minute swim. The buzz around here has been how cold the water was--consensus was 55 degrees-yesterday. However, big change today. I'd say about 64-65 degrees--a little nippy at first but just about perfect. The lake was calm and clear and my shoulder felt fine for once. Great swim!

Talked to Cadence and they helped me clear up a last nagging technical issue on my bike (those guys are great!). Went out and rode the marathon course. Ended up doing 90 minutes and the bike is good to go. I felt very good on the bike.

The run course is quite difficult, especially between about 9 and 17 miles. Some pretty impressive climbs and descents. There is a real monster at 15 that I'm sure will have a big impact on my day on Sunday. By far the hardest run course I've ever seen in an IM (all the others were essentially flat) and maybe the hardest triathlon run course I've ever had to deal with. As I mentioned yesterday, the bike course is also no slouch with 10 significant climbs including 2 real big ones. I don't think it's as slow as IMWI but it probably is just about as hard. I'll let you know more about that after Sunday.

So generally, a nice morning and afternoon. I feel like I'm getting my Mojo back (in a mellow way) and I'm beginning to lock-in mentally on Sunday.

All of this was tempered by some bad news out of Florida. Not surprising, but bad none-the-less....smoke 'em if you got 'em cause someday you won't...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Left Phiily Tuesday evening and flew to Vancouver. Easy flight and arrived 45 minutes early. US air even upgraded me--sweet! Everything arrived in one piece and I loaded up the rental and drove to Abbotsford and crashed around 11. Up at 5:30 and rolled into Penticton at 9:30. My room was ready so checked right in. Off to a good start!

Weather was cool, windy and rainy this morning. White caps on the lake. Cleared a little as the day progressed but stayed windy. never got above 72--I would have taken today for an IM even with the rain. I drove the course and the biking conditions were no where near as bad as Austria. However the forecast doesn't look so good. the front page headline in the Penticton Herald today was: "Triathletes must also beat Okanagan heat." here are a couple of lines from the story that followed:

"Severe muscle cramps, nausea and headaches associated with dehydration are bad enough on their own, let alone when swimming, cycling and running 226 kilometers in less than 17 hours."

"Despite the dismal weather the Okanagan has been experiencing, Ironman athletes can expect a hot, sunny day on Sunday. Weather forecasters are predicting 30 C (86 F), but it will feel more like 36 (97) degrees--making dehydration a big concern for athletes. To Joe Dixon, race director for the 2008 Subaru Ironman Canada, high temperatures like those expected on Sunday are the worst-case scenario in terms of conditions."

I don't want to sound like I'm making excuses for something that hasn't happened yet but I've seen this movie several times before and it ALWAYS has a sad ending. I'm hoping the forecast will change again!

I was successful it putting together my bike--at least I think--I'll ride it tomorrow to find out for sure. what a pain--3+ hours. It is needlessly complicated in it's design.

Nice little 30 minute run tonight. some bland pasta and chicken and then grocery shopping. Unpacking tonight. Living the life!

All by myself. Not nearly as much fun without my wingman or fans. I have a nuce big suite--anyone want to join me?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Planes and perspectives

5 days out now. I am heading to the airport this afternoon and will arrive in Vancouver tonight. Hopefully, I'll gather all my stuff, jump in my rental can cruise about 90 minutes east and crash in some no-tell motel for the night. Up early on Wednesday I should be able to hit Penticton in the morning tomorrow.

Nice run last night and a better session in the pool very early this morning. Just 60 minute bike ride latter this morning before I finish packing.

Still nervous. It's hard not worry about all sorts of things that can go against you in an IM. some you can control and you really want to get these right. And some you can't. I'm trying hard to bring a little perspective into this. I'm very lucky to be healthy and fit enough to even try one of these things--I'm getting up there in years now. I have a supportive family and friends and I have financial ability to do this when so many people in the world have trouble finding enough to eat--that's an easy one to lose sight of. It's a grand event--as epic a thing as I will see this year. I'm sure all sorts of things will happen and it will be a very rich, "alive" experience. I may fail in any number of ways and I'll be fine with all that comes with that. Realistically, I'm the only person who really is hung up on how I perform. Everyone else I know just wants me to be safe and ultimately content. I've trained reasonably well and that work sits as potential in my body. I've done 5 of these already so I do bring a little experience with me. I'm pretty sure when it comes down to it I'll do my best and that will be that.

That said, I'm still nervous.

Monday, August 18, 2008

6 days

All packed and ready to go. I've checked my list 3-4 times so hopefully I'm good to go.

Short, early morning swim this morning. I felt fast but my times were off by 2-4 seconds per hundred. Wonder what that means?

Nervous, nervous, nervous. This is the part I hate....

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Home Stretch: 5 down and 1 to go.

Well it's been 5 weeks since IMAUS and I'll find out next Sunday if my two IMs in 6 weeks made any sense. Here is how the totals for the five weeks since Austria look:

Week 1: 4 hours/0 yds swim/44 miles bike/5 miles run
Week 2: 16 hrs/7k yds/192 mi/17 mi
Week 3: 25 hrs/12k yds/287 mi/42 mi
Week 4: 20 hrs/10k yds/225 mi/36 mi
Week 5: 10 hrs/9k yds/106 mi/14mi

Next week of course is mostly about rest, travel and then racing. I have about 5-6 hours of training before race morning. I have a little bit of the mid-taper body-funk going on although not as bad as normal as counting the 2 weeks prior to IMAUS, I've basically tapered/rested 4 of the last 7 weeks. Not a typical "A" race IM prep but here we are. I would have liked to put more training in the tank but a hectic non-tri schedule has eaten into my training time.

I spent 4 hours this morning working with my bike tech trying to figure out how to take apart and put back together (and fit into my travel case) my BMC TT01 Time Machine. I love this bike and it is a proven speed demon in long course races but this is the first time I will fly with it to a race. What a pain. It has such a complicated design that I know I will be stressed a fair amount until I put it back together next Wednesday.

The weather forecast is murky. is now calling for 82 degrees and rain showers which I'm ok with although I'm sure it will create a very sketchy set of descents on the bike. The local Canadian forecast is still for highs above 90 so we'll see. It was 101 degrees there yesterday.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I'm adopted!

Got a nice note from Pete Reid. He asked me to call him as soon as I touch down in Penticton. Pete told me he was adopting me for the week and going to be my number one fan. How sweet is that? Pete is such a class guy and I love hanging and training with him. It will be a real boost to see him and pick his brains about the IMC course. Knowing he's out there and pulling for me is worth at least 10 minutes in my run!

Weather update: Not much change in the forecast from yesterday--high of 81 and mostly cloudy. Much better than the 101 forecasted for today for sure! i did a little research and looked at historical highs for Penticton on 8/24--here they are:

2001: 74
2002: 94
2003: 78
2004: 68
2005: 80
2006: 80
2007: 87

Hopefully the really hot weather only shows once every 5 years and we won't be due again until 2012! :)

Friday, August 15, 2008

So how's the weather anyways?

I know some people that love to race when it's hot. Not that they go faster but they have learned through experience that they slow down less than others. I also know some people who always do worse when it gets hot. Then there's me. I must be the worst triathlete in the world when it comes to handling heat and humidity. My two H-IMs this year are great examples of this. the addage that the weather's the same for everybody just isn't true.

So I look very closely and nervously at weather forecasts. Since we are now 9 days away from race day we can now get our first look at a forecast. the weather in Penticton has been very, very hot over the last 30 days. Tomorrow the high is forecasted to be 100! However, the current forecast for the 24th is just 80 and mostly cloudy. Of-course, this can change a lot between now and then. in fact, this morning when I first looked at the forecast for Sunday it called for 75 and partly cloudy. Frankly, I'd take either in a heartbeat--I've got a chance to race well in those conditions. At 100 degrees this goose is cooked.....hopefully the forecast will hold up.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tour de Lums and Mike Clark

My company, MIOGA Ventures is sponsoring this year's Tour de Lums which is a Special Olympics cycling event. We are going to dedicate the event to Mike Clark. Mike (aka Iron Mike) was a great guy and fellow AG triathlete here in Delaware. He passed away unexpectedly this March. Mike is the reason I did my first IMFL back in 2004. We competed many times through the years and we probably split all of all our races. Mike was similar to me in that he was a decent swimmer and runner but his strength was on the bike. As a result our races were characterized by us being near each other throughout the whole race. The last time we raced was the 2007 Eagleman where I beat him by 14 minutes. However, since I was 1 week short of my 50th BD, the WTC rules at the time had me race in the 45-49 AG. Mike, in the 50-54 AG scored the last Kona slot. I remember kidding him about this and telling him that I would take it back from him in 2008. He told me he doubted it. We never got a chance to race that race.

Anyways the TDL will be in Mike's honor this year and I'll carry him with me in Canada in 10 days....

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

AC to LA

Took Anders to the airport this morning. He is moving out to LA and starts his new job on the 25th.

I'll miss seeing him all the time-for all the normal reasons. But also as my frequent training and racing buddy. Over the last 4 years we've done 4 IM together. We've traveled to France (twice), spain (twice), Australia, Austria and all over the US for racing and training.

We did a short swim and ran together for a while yesterday. I'll miss his frequent companionship but anticipate that I'll find ways for us to ride again....

11 days to Canada

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Hey now--getting into taper life!

Did a 2500yd w/o at the pool with good intensity (200s=2:50/100s=1:21/50s=0:35). A short 3.5 mile run followed with 6:15 pace quarters at the local track.

Nows the time to rest--an important job that I must attend to....

Monday, August 11, 2008

Lezak, Coldplay, IM and man at his best

All six of us stayed up late last night and watched the 400 meter FS relay. We were screaming and jumping up and down and ultimately crying. If you're not inspired by Jason Lezak and the rest of the team then you need to have your inspiration glands checked.

Recently saw Coldplay and they were magnificent. At times i got shivers as they performed.

My daughter is heading off to Tisch in NYC this fall where she will study drama--I'm always overwhelmed when i see her perform.

I think it truly is special when you watch other people perform (be it sports or concerts or whatever), especially on grand stages. it truly brings out the best in people. It's a spiritual thing for me.

And that's the way i feel about an IM. I'm very excited to race in Canada--irrespective of what happens--because I know it's a special, spiritual experience--one that will surely bring out some of the best in me....

13 days!

Sunday, August 10, 2008


14 days. Time to wind it down and get focused on the big race. Another nice week ended up--a little over 20 hours. i watched Anders place 4th at the King's Grant Tri this morning--I was itching to race but am trying to follow the program.

A much easier week next week which is good given the busy-ness of my schedule. Onward and upward!

Vlad and CEO challenges

A friend of mine told me about a couple of snide comments about my competing in the CEO challenges competition from someone named Vlad. i don't know who Vlad is but would appreciate he post his personal info and stop being anonymous. I'd like to call him out on this. Anyways, Vlad was whining about how he had to work a lot and it wasn't fair that I entered as a CEO when I really wasn't one--implying that I was cheating or something.

Anyways to clear that up, the CEO challenges organization's rules are: "The events are open to CEOs, Presidents, or Owners of companies with over $2.5 million in annual gross revenue ($5 million for C-Suite Executives)."

At the time I entered I qualified in 4 different ways:

1. Chairman of the Board of iQor, a $400MM BPO company that I have been chairman of for 6 years--leading 4 successful financing rounds of this private LBO.
2. Executive chairman of the Board of Starcite, a $50MM SAS Meeting planning company
3. Chairman of the Board of fine, which is a $20mm intetnet retailer where I have worked as part of the executive team since it's founding 7 years ago
4. Managing Director, CEO and founder of MIOGA Ventures, LLC an investment and management consulting company that I founded and have run for the last 9 years. My current clients include TPG Capital, Texas Pacific Group Venture Capital, Opera solutions, Harrah's, Sears, and Avaya and others.

I am no longer with Starcite but I continue in the other 3 positions.

I should point out that I've been eligible for CEO challenges for almost 20 years by their rules. I've know about them for the last few year--I think they started in 2004 or so. I've never entered as a CEO because of the demands of my job(s). I chose to enter this year NOT because of Kona but because it was a way to get entered into IM Canada without traveling there--which is tough for me to pull off in August. My son and i were going to go there and then register again for 2009 (although his plans have now changed).

Anyways, as I was not successful at some other qualification opportunities this will turn out to be my last shot at Kona this year. with my father's brain tumor diagnosis I've decided if I was fortunate enough to qualify then I would go so that he might be able to see me race there (he has travelled to IMFL twice and IMWI to see me race in the past).

While I'M blessed to not have to sit at a desk and whine about crap i don't know anything about (like Vlad), rest assured the above jobs do require a great deal of my time to manage. I've worked hard over the years (I was a partner at Bain & company, a BU president at american Express, the president of first USA and the CEO of Walker digital) and have created a business that allows me to remain actively (and lucratively) involved in business and still devote a lot of time to my other interests including triathlon.

Now Vlad who the heck are you and how dare you imply the BS you did in your comments? I suggest you crawl back under the bridge with the rest of the trolls.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

15 days

Turning now from IM specific to taper/peak. Legs definitely feel the load of the past 14 day block. I'm pleased with how it went. volume will drop all the way down to about 10 hours next week with good intensity.

Changing my BMC set u from a 55/42:11/23 to a 53/39:13/26. this reduces the gear ratio on my smallest gear from 1.83 to 1.50--about a 19% reduction which should help protect my quads on the 3 climbs art IMC. Of course I'm giving up quite a bit on the top end but I suspect I'll be coasting (scarred) a lot on the descents anyways.....

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

18 days to go--Lion in the winter

Still cranking out some good workouts and being pleasantly surprised. Today my 100s were all in 1:19-1:22 range which is pretty good for me! On Monday I rode a strong 126 miles and did an immediate 3 mile transition run and ran very, very well--extremely encouraging.

At mile 85 I hit a local store for a snickers bar and a mountain dew. As i was refueling a young mom and 2 kids wandered by and the mom asked me how far I was riding today. i told her 125 and that I'd already done 85 (it was about 11 am). She was dumbfounded. she asked if I raced and i said yes--I do Ironman races. she replied: "oh my god your muscles must be rock hard"....I smiled....the Lion in the winter...yeah baby

Sunday, August 3, 2008

21 days--a bread and butter week

3 weeks until IMCAN show time!

I just finished a "bread and butter" IM preparation week:

25+ hours
290 miles on the bike
42 miles running
12,000 yds swimming

A little less swim and a little more run then I had planned but I was pleasantly surprised by how good my legs felt post IMAUS--decided to take advantage of it. These are the kind of weeks that make one Ironfit. I'm very optimistic about my progress this week--I seem to be peaking just right and I'm not feeling any lasting negatives from IMAUS.

Next week is more of the same starting tomorrow morning at 5:30 with a 7 hour ride/30 min run brick. Towards the end of next week we'll start the taper and get focused on the final prep for what will hopefully be my qualification race--more on this latter.

Friday, August 1, 2008

24 days to go

Mostly through the first of two IM specific weeks. I'm very happy with how my body is responding to the heavier volume and intensity post IM Austria. Several highlights include a number of good swim sessions--both open water and in the pool. My last pool w/o included a 500/400/300/200/100 descending ladder with the 100s averaging right on 1:30. I did a solid 118 mile bike ride on Tuesday and had a very intense 3 hour interval/tempo ride with Anders yesterday followed up with a nice 25 minute T-run. this morning I felt pretty darn good throughout my 15 mile/2:15 run (9 minutes/mile) and am now heading out the door for another 4-5 miler. Things are looking up for IMC!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ironman Austria-(Belated) Race Report

Ironman Austria Race Report
July 13, 2008


Anders and I boarded a plane for Munich from Philly on Tuesday evening July 8th for our fourth IM adventure together. This was to be my fifth IM in 44 months and my 8th race of the 2008 season. To this point I’ve had a decent triathlon season, but not nearly as good as my breakout year of 2007. In my five sprints I managed to secure four 1st places (AG) and one 2nd. My two H-IMs were characterized by extraordinary heat/humidity and my performance suffered a great deal. I managed to hold onto 2nd at Gulf Coast but faded to 21st at Eagleman (EM). Both races were among the slowest H-IMs of my career.

At the beginning of the year when I set my season strategy I decided that if I did not qualify for Kona at EM then I would focus on IM Canada as my best shot at a Kona slot. However, since Anders and I had signed up for IM Austria a year earlier I decided to race this IM as a “B” race (if there is such a thing!) to make sure I was ready to race at IMCAN which is just 6 weeks after IMAUS. Anders was focused on IMAUS as his “A” race and he was in great shape and ready to go.

We arrived in Munich late Wednesday morning and after gathering our stuff and securing our Volkswagen van, loaded up and headed south. After leaving Munich, Anders crashed and I struggled to stay awake during the 4.5-hour drive as neither of us had slept much on the red-eye flight (this would be a common theme of our trip). The drive south was beautiful—the Alps are amazing! We finally arrived around 4:30 in Portschach Am Worther See and checked into our hotel, the SeeHotel Porcia. This turned out to be an awesome place with just a dozen rooms situated right on the Worther See where the swim is held. We were about 10k or so from the race site.

We did all the normal pre-Ironman things from Wednesday evening until Saturday (built our bikes, rode the courses, did light training, ate very bland pasta, registered, bought some T-shirts, racked our bikes, prepared our T-bags, etc.). One thing we did very little of was sleep. As it turned out there was a HUGE festival that was nationally televised and attracted several thousand people to the hotel about 100 meters down the shore from us. We were treated to an all night rave, midnight fireworks and a total of about 10 hours of sleep over 5 days (part of this was the time zone change for sure). I was also on the phone after midnight quite a bit talking to doctors in Florida for my father. Oh well. We awoke at 3:30 am on the 13th, had some PB toast and coffee and headed off to the race site to do battle.

The Swim

The weather forecast for this race vacillated wildly from day-to-day in the ten-day lead up to the race. It went from partly cloudy and 74 to sunny and 89. Even though the last days prior to the race in Austria were very nice, race morning was forecasted to feature rain. However, when we arrived at the race site it was a beautiful partly cloudy morning with the temp at about 65 degrees—maybe (for once this year) we would be blessed with decent weather.

We arrived at the race site at 5:15 after securing a decent parking place and banged through our mutual pre-race preparation. It is a HUGE plus to have someone with you as you get ready for an IM and Anders and I worked like a well-oiled machine. By 6:30 we were on the shore of the See. I decided I had to hit the john one last time and left my wetsuit and all my stuff with Anders and told him I would definitely be back by 6:45—he looked pretty dubious with the 2400+ triathletes and about 4000+ spectators milling about. But I was true to my word and was back with him by 6:38. We helped each other into our wetsuits, hugged and wished each other well. He headed to the far left (buoy line) where all the big guns were and I headed to the far right where the timid line up. 300 meters and a large pier separated us—I wouldn’t see him again until about 7 and half hours later.

The swim at IMAUS is one of the best around. It’s in the most prominent lake of the Carinthian lake country of Austria. The lake is situated amongst the Alps in the Southern portion of Austria—about 30k from Slovenia and 50k from Italy. The lake is truly delightful. Anders and I enjoyed several great pre-race swims in its clear, clean and temperate (about 70-72 degrees) waters.

I knew that by starting to the right my swim time would be slower but I really wanted to take the attitude of a big training day into this race. If I thrashed myself today then IMCAN six weeks hence would be problematic. That said, I wanted a good result and hoped to swim around 70 minutes or so which would be my second fastest IM swim split. At 6:56 they told us (at least I think so because they were speaking some language that I guessed was German) to enter the water and as I waded out to what was advertised as an in-water start the gun went off. This was a bit surprising as I was only shin deep and still adjusting my goggles. No worries though as I was pretty stress free about this race and I fixed my goggles and waded another 20-30 meters and then began my swim about 15 people or so from the front of the pack.

Because the start is constrained between the two outside (of the three) piers it was pretty crowded at the start. That said, it was pretty mellow for an IM swim—no washing machine here. I’m sure this was in part due to my choice to swim with the timid folks. Anders told me later he was in Kung-Fu fighting mode for his whole swim. I found my place and stroke right away. I patiently waited for openings to develop and then moved up. It was clear that I was faster than most of the people around me. By about 500 meters or so I settled in to a nice, easy aerobic pace. I was also benefiting from a solid draft behind a group of 8-10 swimmers. I was at the extreme right of the pack and experienced very little contact with the other swimmers.

The initial part of the swim was very enjoyable. The clear waters allowed me to position myself precisely vis-à-vis the other swimmers near me. I hit the first (of two) turn buoys at 24:40. Although I wasn’t sure, I thought this buoy was at around 1400 meters, which put my swim pace at about 67 minutes. I was psyched with this as my PB is 66 minutes (IMFL07). I saw no reason to change anything.

I continued pretty much the same around the 2nd left-hand turn and began heading back towards the starting shore. I’m not sure but I may have headed a little off course at this point. I found myself having to swim between a bunch of sailboats and I noticed that all of the other swimmers were to my left. I also had no idea where to swim to and I kept looking up to see some sign of the entrance to the finishing canal.

The IMAUS swim course is unique in that the final 900 meters are up a narrow (barely 10 meters wide) and very shallow, weedy canal. I finally saw the two flags marking the entrance and vectored left towards the entrance. Once in the canal things were a little frenetic. I was in a fairly wide part of the swim bell curve so there were plenty of people in the canal with me. It seemed like the pace picked up as we were all squashed together. As I pushed harder to maintain my position it occurred to me that I had not been pushing very hard in this swim.

Along the banks of the canal people were screaming, clapping and blowing whistles and horns. It was loud enough that I could hear them distinctly through my earplugs. As I swam I occasionally bumped up against tree roots, rocks, etc but I have to say I really enjoyed this part of the swim—it was an adventure. Anders later told me he had a similar reaction.

At long last I reached the end and made the left turn to the very steep exit ramp and was helped up by a kindly volunteer. I hit my timing watch and looked at to see a 73:48 which I was surprised by how slow it was—I expected about 68 minutes given my first 1400 meters. My HR averaged 156, which seems really high for how easy I perceived the swim to be—I would have guess about 148. (I averaged 153 at IMFL when I did my 66:25). I registered this info with a vague feeling of disappointment but quickly moved on to the tasks at hand.

Meanwhile Anders was having an outstanding swim. Indeed he swam his best IM swim officially clocking 62:38 (which means he really swam around 62:11 given the distance from the swim exit to the timing mat. He latter said that he felt like he had a great swim and was surprised it wasn’t a sub 60. In any event, he had a great swim.

The bottom line for me is that this was my second fastest IM swim and it felt really easy. I think I’m pretty well positioned to go sub 70 at IMCAN and that is frankly all I need to do to qualify there (more on that latter). It was a very enjoyable swim and I was in good spirits as I headed off to T1. Find below the data from my swim and how it compares to my prior IM efforts:

Race Time AG Place, %-tile OA Place, %-tile

IMAU08 73:48 66/166, 61% 1400/2461, 43%
IMFL07 66:16 26/148, 83% 551/2283, 76%
IMWI06 79:50 90/257, 65% 1096/2439, 55%
IMWA05 85:47 45/64, 31% 417/586, 31%
IMFL04 77:26 131/210, 38% 1317/2116, 38%

Transition One

After climbing the steep ramp I moved purposefully down the path to the transition area. I looked up at the sky and noticed an ominous timber to it—“Tut, Tut it seems like rain!” At first I was walking briskly but I felt really good so I decided to jog a little bit (this was off my race plan as I had decided that it was fine to take a little extra time in transition for this “B” race). I came to the racks and quickly found my bag (#2578), which was marked by a black piece of tape that Anders had put on the strings for me to help me find it quickly.
I glanced at the changing tent and quickly determined it was pointless to go into it as it was very crowded and I didn’t intend to really “change”. I found a nice piece of asphalt and sat down and tried to open the top of my T1 bag. It is here that I discovered that Anders had inadvertently taped the two strings together and the opening at the top of the bag was too small to slip my bulbous Spiuk TT helmet out. I actually spent a few seconds thinking about what to do as I didn’t want to rip my bag apart and probably end up losing my wetsuit (and a fine pair of Oakley’s that I had already decided to not wear given the sky’s menacing nature). It’s nice to not be under “A” pressure and I need to remember this calmness and grace when I’m going for it up in Canada. I decided to rip the bag just enough to get my helmet out. This was on the side I had reinforced with duct tape so I felt there was a good chance the bag’s integrity would hold (which it did).

After getting the helmet out I dumped the rest of the contents on the ground and went to work. Shoes on. Enduralytes and gel flask in the back pocket. Helmet on and buckled. Swim stuff back into the bag. Sunglasses on and grab number belt. I ran to the bag drop-off area and deposited my bag. As I ran I put my number belt on and was soon at my bike that was racked very near the entrance to the bike rack area (which was unfortunate because I had to run 50 yards or so to the other end to reach the bike mount area).

As I pushed my bike I went over in my head everything I had wanted to do in transition and concluded I had done so. I looked at the SRM and it was reading my HR, distance, time and my speed (no power yet) so I was good to go.

I mounted the bike with a total T1 time of 5:25 and an average HR of 156 (this was 31 seconds longer than my official T1 time due to the run from the swim exit to the T1 timing mat). My T1 was 1:31 slower than Anders’ and this was probably 30-45 seconds relatively slower than it “should” be. At IMCAN I’ll need to be ready to push it harder during T1 and still avoid mistakes.

The Bike

The bike at IMAUS is basically a two-loop affair. My research prior to the race indicated that the course was a little short of 112 miles and that it had anywhere from 5000-9000 feet of climbing. Most estimates put the climbing at about 7500 feet. After the race, Anders and my SRMs showed just less than 110 miles and his Polar indicated about 8200 feet of vertical.

The first mile weaved through a walking path in the Europa Park adjacent to the Worther See. There were lots of triathletes mounting their bikes and trying to slip their feet into their bike shoes and weaving all around. The path was maybe 5 feet across and bordered by fencing on both sides so I spent this first mile trying to stay out of trouble. I had to slow almost to a stop on a couple of occasions. Normally I would have been highly irritated by this but this morning I was very focused on staying calm and riding real easy.

Finally we turned south and rode about 3 miles or so out of Klagenfurt until we hit the beginning of the loop. Here we turned right and rode along the south side of the lake on a very nice, smooth road that directly bordered the lake. The majority of the course was closed to traffic, which was very nice.

I focused right in on my HR and power. My HR was initially around 150 which was way too high (normally 150-154 would be my target but today I was trying to get it down to the 130s) but I expected it to drop as the effects of the swim began to wear off. I focused on keeping my power below 200 watts. The consequence of this was I was getting passed by a lot of bikers. This never happens to me on the bike and I really had to swallow my ego here to stick to my plan to just have an easy training ride during this race.

I soon fully embraced this approach and found myself really enjoying the ride. It is very beautiful and I found myself gazing out at one nice view after another as we paralleled the lake for about 15 miles. This part of the course is mostly flat. Unfortunately, into any sunny day a little rain must fall and around 6 miles or so into my ride it began to rain for the first time—not hard, but enough to make the roads slick and I became very conservative—I was determined to take no chances on the ride today.

We soon reached the resort town of Velden at the far eastern end of the lake and here the race leaders zoomed by me the other way. They were almost an hour ahead of me already and they were screaming down a descent even though it was now raining pretty heavily. Just seeing them do this made me very uncomfortable. Shortly after that I entered the no passing zone that was put in place for a fairly steep 500-meter descent that I sat up on and rode with my brakes on most of the way. Other riders were blasting past me and the whole thing was very scary. I breathed a sigh of relief at the bottom and hopped that would be the worse of it today—if I only knew!

Let me digress for a moment here and comment on my bike set-up. Based partially on Pete Reid’s recommendation and my desire to treat this leg as a training ride I had chosen to ride my Cervelo SLC-SL road bike in this race. The more stable geometry, while theoretically slower, was much more stable, especially on descents, than my TT bike. I had some clip on aero bars and was using my old (less aero) wheel set: 808/Zipp disc. I used one of my frame cages for my tire repair stuff and the other for water. On the aero bars we had hand made a nifty cage where I carried about 1500 calories in the form of CarboPro1200. I had a bento box on the top tube and in it had 36 Enduralytes and a gel flask.

At the bottom of the descent we reached the town of Rosegg and the course began to roll a bit. I had to really concentrate to keep my power below 200 watts. My HR was now down into the mid 130s and still dropping. It felt like a very easy training day. We made a left turn at St. Niklas and headed south away from the lake and towards the Alps that ring this lake region. Here we reached the first significant climb. The climb was packed with people cheering lustily. It was about a 6-8 minute climb where I went all the way down to my 34/23 (my Cervelo has a compact crank on it) and had to stand up to get up the hill. I was showing 250-300 watts despite my efforts to go easy and I’d estimate the grade in this section as well above 10%.

The descent from this climb was very nerve racking as the roads were constantly winding left and right and very narrow so many of the turns were blind. It had stopped raining and it looked like the sun was going to come out but the roads were still wet and very slippery. I was very focused and tense through many parts of this section. This “smaller loop” portion of the course was constantly up and down and left and right—the riding was very absorbing. The good news was that the rain had stopped and the sun was out and by the time I made it back to Rosegg the roads had for the most part dried.

We climbed back up to Velden and made a hard right and headed for the toughest portion of the course. I glanced at my average power on the SRM and noted 170 watts or so with an average HR now at about 134bpm—this was very conservative but with the Rupertiberg still in front of me I wanted to stay on the safe side.

Finally at about 38-39 miles I notice lots of writing on the roads and came around a corner and sure enough there it was, the Ruperitberg—the biggest climb on the course. We’ve obviously tackled much harder climbs but this was plenty difficult for an IM. The climb is in two sections. The first is about 1.8k long with a sustained grade of over 10% and up to 15% in several places. Then it dies down to about 4-5% for 500 meters and then jumps up above 10% again for another 500 meters. I was out of my saddle climbing in my smallest gear at about 5-6mph for the two steep sections. As a consequence the total climb took about 15 minutes.

There were quite a few people here cheering us on. Loud whistles. Chants of “Hoop, Hoop, Hoop” (pronounced “hup”). “Super” and a bunch of other stuff I didn’t understand. It was fun! No one passed me here as I was forced to sustain 260-300 watts and everybody was basically going as slow as they could to conserve energy.

Finally I reached the top and began what would be an amazing 13-14 mile descent back towards to Klagenfurt. Since it was dry and the descent was mild (2-5% grades) with several longer straight sections I let the Cervelo run a little bit and tried to relax. I had sustained sections where I never dropped below 30 mph. The miles were clicking by in less than 2 minutes each. I remember saying out loud “this is awesome”. At one point I started laughing—I really enjoyed this section and rode well and fast and felt comfortable doing so (this is what I’ll need to bring with me to Canada).

Back down we made a hard left and actually began heading east back towards Klagenfurt and the See. This last section was a false flat downhill and I continued to push along at 25 mph+. I roared past the turn to Velden wondering where the turnaround was. All of a sudden the crowds got very thick and I could see the big turn arch up ahead. The crowd noise was almost deafening—I could hear it over the hiss of the wind past my helmet and the tires on the road. I made the turn and crowds grew even thicker. We had to ride single file here as the path through the people was just 4-5 feet wide. I’m sure I was smiling like an idiot here. Good stuff.

As I made the turn at 2:54:47 which if this was truly 90k (56 miles) would have been an average of 19.2mph. I could see it was short and thought maybe there was some final added section I would get on the final lap. My power was at 170 watts and an average HR of 133. More importantly I felt great, like I was on a base mileage HR1 training ride. I decided to just push it a little bit harder—to try to get my average wattage up to 175 or so—on the 2nd lap.

I started the near lake portion harder than the first lap. The crowds were thinned out quite a bit now so I was passing and getting passed by far fewer competitors. About five miles into the second lap the sky darkened dramatically and it began to rain, this time much harder than on the first lap. The sound of the raindrops was quite noticeable on the hollow faring of my aero helmet. The rain was basically a constant companion for the rest of my ride. It was fairly steady but moderate for quite a while. However I was aware of a front approaching as the sky was getting darker and I could feel the temperature dropping.

I’ll spare you a lot of the details of the 2nd lap and pick it up at the base of the Rupertilberg. Here the sky opened up and it began to rain quite dramatically. I could hear very distinct and loud thunderclaps up ahead. I had to remove my glasses as it became difficult to see through them. I wasn’t really focused on the rain here as the effort of the climb was absorbing much of my attention. I became aware during this climb that despite my easy approach to this ride my legs were beginning to register the effort.

As I crested the first portion of the Rupertiberg climb the scene became quite surreal. The sky was lit up with chain after chain of lightning streaking across the sky in multiple forks and many times crashing to earth--literally all around me. The thunder would sound 5-7 seconds later and my knowledge of the speed of sound told me that some of these were coming down as close to a mile from me. Rationally it occurred to me that riding a metal covered bike across a mountain ridge at a time like this was probably not what made the most sense. Emotionally, I must admit I was beginning to get pretty worried. I knew I had one huge descent in front of me.

And then I was upon the descent. If anything it began to rain and lightning even harder. My speed jumped up above 30 mph. The raindrops slammed into my face stinging it and into my eyes making it very difficult to see. I sat up to air brake and begin using my brakes constantly but my braking power was severely compromised by the carbon rims on my race wheels. My upper body was very tense and my neck and shoulders ached as I tried to control my bike.

After a few miles of this I began to shake as my core temperature was rapidly dropping in the rain and the relative wind. I wasn’t able to pedal very much so I had no way to warm myself—I was just wearing a thin sleeveless trisuit. The wind started blowing hard and this was complicating my handling challenges as the wind would gust into my deep section front wheel. I noticed wide rivers of moving water flowing across the course.

What a nightmare! This is the worse I’ve ever seen on a bike. I was being as conservative as I could. My only other option was to just stop but I was growing increasingly concerned about hypothermia if I did. I distinctly remember thinking there was a good chance I would DNF. I was scarred and freezing and I thought that I didn’t have a special needs bag for the run so I had nothing for the marathon to warm me.

Finally I remember saying to myself: ”Stop it—you’ll be fine.” This actually seemed to work for a while. At last I was down on the false flat back into Klagenfurt. Here another nightmare waited. The last 5-6 miles we were in the right hand lane of a two-lane road going AGAINST traffic. The wind was gusting strongly trying to blow us into traffic. It was raining harder than ever. The cars were coming the opposite way at what had to be 40-50 mph—passing just a few feet to my right. I was very aware that if I went down that would be it. My arms, shoulders and necked ached. I was shivering noticeably.

In a word it was hell. And then it was over. The turn to the park suddenly appeared and I realized I was going to make it into T2. And I had a marathon to run. Oh boy!

My total elapsed time for the bike was 5:59:19, which meant my second lap was more than 10 minutes slower than my first lap. While this is understandable given the rain it still is a bit disappointing given how I felt and my expectations as I began the second lap. I guess I shouldn’t complain given how harrowing the ride was. My HR ended up averaging just 131bpm (a very low effort training ride number) and my power ended up averaging just 168 watts. Here is how my ride at IMAUS compares to my prior IMs (as an aside, the relative rankings at IMAUS are cumulative and not for just the bike split as they are at the other IMs):

Race Time AG Place, %-tile OA Place, %-tile

IMAUS08 5:59:19 84/166, 50% 1593/2461, 35%
IMFL07 5:06:14 7/148, 96% 270/2283, 88%
IMWI06 6:00:41 34/257, 87% 335/2439, 86%
IMWA05 5:29:24 9/64, 88% 132/586, 78%
IMFL04 5:10:16 18/210, 92% 211/2116, 90%

Transition Two

My first impression upon entering T2 was just how many bikes were already there—many more than half—this is not what I typically see in an IM. I should not have been surprised given my race approach but I was. As I ran towards the next open space (you rack by finish order) I looked around to see if I could see Anders’ bike. This of course was very silly and a reflection of how overwhelmed my brain was at this point. Later I would learn that Anders turned in a very credible 5:24. He also struggled with the dangerous conditions but he was able to avoid a couple of tricky situations and make out onto the run course safely.

After passing my bike off I walked the 100 or so yards to where the bags were hanging. After what I just went through on the bike I was in no mood to hurry through transition. In fact my prime objective was to just get warm.

I grabbed my T2 bag and entered the changing tent where it was a remarkable 20-30 degrees warmer. I was thrilled with this and frankly took my time to both warm up and regain my composure. In total I took 5:41 to complete T2. I believe this is the first triathlon where my T2 actually took longer than my T1. My HR only averaged 113 bpm during the transition. On to the marathon!

The Run

Shortly after exiting the changing tent I’m out on the marathon course. The first part of the course is a poorly designed, tortuous path through the transition area that leads to the top half of what is effectively a figure eight. With two laps, this means we must wind our way through the transition area near the finish line four times before we head for home.

I feel really good right away. With my extended stay in transition and the first couple of minutes of the run I’m no longer cold. It’s amazing how quickly my concern about being too cold on the run has dissipated. It’s still raining pretty heavily but this should prove to be an advantage for the run. I hit the first km marker in 4:45, which is a 3:20 marathon pace and I immediately throttle back. I’m not used to my legs feeling this fresh at this point in an IM.

I consciously try to run very easy over the next portion of the first 5k. I soon see Anders nearing the completion of the first loop of the first lap. I estimate that he is somewhere around 10k/50 minutes ahead of me. We slap five and I’m relieved that we both made it through the bike safely. He looks good but looks can be deceiving, especially this early in the marathon. I soon hit the 5k-point at 27:41 with a HR of 145bpm (this is just under a 9 minute per mile pace or about a 3:53 marathon pace). I struggle a bit with the metric math but soon conclude this is a pretty desirable pace. In hindsight, I recognize that I was running at least 15-30 sec per mile too fast, an adjustment I’ll need to make for IMCAN.

I continue cruising on what is a convoluted, crowded but very flat and fast run course. The rain lets up and soon stops. My second 5k passes in 27:20 with an average HR of 150bpm. So, I’ve completed the first 10k in 55:01, which is an 8:52/mile pace or about 3:52 for a marathon. I feel great and with this HR I’m feeling unrealistically invincible.

My plan for the run was to try to get through 30-32k of the run course running well (4:00-4:30 marathon pace) and then shut it down and walk/run to the finish to preserve my legs for IMCAN. The first 10k has gone so well that I’m actually thinking that maybe I should push the whole way (thank god this ultimately didn’t happen!)

I pass through the central area again and see Anders near the halfway point of his run. He slaps my hand with some vigor and I can definitely tell he is running great. He in fact is on a 3:44 pace and at the halfway point he is actually picking it up a bit. I also run the math and conclude that I’m running pretty close to Anders’ pace—I conclude I’m running really, really well.

I hit 15k in 84:10 with 29:09/151bpm for my 3rd 5k. While this is a little slower than the first two, I still feel great and I’m still on a 3:56 pace. It’s now stopped raining and I can sense it beginning to warm up. This is a bit of a concern given the humidity in the air. The good news is that the second part of the figure eight runs along a canal and is very shaded. There is excellent fan support and they yell things like: “Hoop, hoop, hoop” and “Super Randy” and many other things I can’t comprehend.

At the far end of the western loop there is a bell that I leap up and ring as this causes a Euro to be donated to some nameless charity. I head back towards transition and I begin to become conscious of the growing fatigue in my legs. I now I’m slowing down but I expect that I’ll hit the halfway point right around 2 hours. I skip taking a split at 20k looking instead for the halfway split. That split turns out to be at 21.5k, so 0.4 longer than halfway. Running the math post race I see I went through the half at 2:01:36, which is my best half-marathon split in an IM. It’s also faster than my two heat/humidity influence half-IM runs this year. My HR averages 145bpm for this 6.5k section. I’m pretty encouraged by this first part of the marathon although it’s probably about 10 minutes faster than I should plan on running at IMCAN. I soon see Anders again (as it turns out for the last time on the course) and he continues to look great—he is visibly pumped by how well he is running.

As I head towards 25k it gets noticeably hotter and my legs begin to quickly deteriorate. Aerobically, I’m under very mild stress but my legs are beginning to complain quite a bit. I have some decisions to make. I run the math and conclude that I can run around 7 minutes per kilometer (about 11:15/mile) and finish under 12 hours. While this is not a goal, it certainly would be nice to do so. I decide to run through 25k and then make a call on pacing for the last 9-10 miles.

I hit 25k at 2:30:10, which is 25:34 after the “half-way split”. The math is difficult but I basically figure out that I’ve averaged somewhere between 7 and 7:10 per kilometer over the last 5k. I ponder this for a bit and conclude that a sub 12 hour IM—about a 4:35 marathon—would represent way too high a physiological cost and would put at risk my IMCAN effort. While my ego protests I decide to shut it down a little early. I’m frankly disappointed in myself, especially given how well I was running earlier in the race. I also know I still have a long way to go and with a lot of walking I’m going to be out here for quite a long time. That said, it’s the right thing to do.

I mix running and walking over the next 5k and it passes in 38:58 (just under 8 minutes/k) and my HR is now all the way down to 120bpm. I make the executive decision to walk all of the next 5k (which really sucks) to make sure I don’t unnecessarily hurt my legs. This is a really tough stretch for me mentally and physically. I have to fight the urge to run and I’m actually yawning on the course as my lack of sleep begins to catch up with me. I see the first two women heading home at around 40k and conclude that they may set a new IM world record (which the winner, Sandra Wallenhorst, actually does and holds for all of 40 minutes or so until the first woman at Roth crosses the line).

As I enter the town square and head for home I decide to start mixing running and walking again. It’s quite a bit warmer now, although not excessively so. The crowds are thick and boisterous here and as I pass the bell for the last time I stop and ring it 8-10 times are so. The crowd loves it. I chuckle and gird for the trudge home. I take a split at 37k (5k to go) and realize my last two kilometers averaged 10:12 with a HR of 109bpm.

Over the last 5k I mix running and walking and as I get closer I begin to mostly run. I finally get back to the transition area and wind my through it. This time at the lake I get to take the left turn and head the final 500 meters for home. I round the bend and there it is about 75 meters ahead. The crowd is packed in the stands. There are about 20 cheerleaders. Some dude with a microphone comes out and slaps me five and says: “Rannnnnnndy!”, and then something else which I couldn’t understand. I run up the last 10 meters by myself and put an open hand into the air with my five fingers outstretched to signify my 5 Ironman finishes.

My last 5k has passed in 41:54 with a HR of 122. My overall marathon time is 5:04:14 which means my second half marathon was a whole hour slower than my first. Given the plan this is not surprising.

I’m pretty tired despite my “easy” approach to this race. I go into the finisher’s tent and soon find Anders who has been recuperating for some time from his 10:48 (he slowed quite a bit over the last 10k—having to walk a fair amount and ended up running a 4:08). We get our finisher shirts and certificates and gather all of our stuff (which is a real pain in the ass) and ride back to our car. Soon we are back at the hotel. We grab a bite to eat and have a couple of beers. It’s raining hard again so we decide not to go back for the midnight finishers and instead repair to an early bed.

The next day we hang in Austria and pack up. On Tuesday we drive to Munich and have a nice time there for 24 hours before heading back to the US, tired but satisfied. Here is how my IM Austria compares:

Race Time AG Place, %-tile OA Place, %-tile

IMAUS08 5:04:14 98/166, 42% 1741/2461, 29%
IMFL07 4:58:03 70/148, 53% 1228/2283, 46%
IMWI06 4:30:00 80/257, 69% 813/2439, 67%
IMWA05 6:38:54 53/64, 19% 546/586, 7%
IMFL04 4:51:58 106/210, 50% 1125/2116, 47%

Post Race Observations

1. A successful IM. I achieved my objectives and anytime you finish one of these it’s an accomplishment
2. A great time with Anders—we have been blessed to do these four IM together
3. The physical toll (post race assessment) doesn’t seem to be too great and I should be able to show up at IMCAN on 8/24/8 ready to rock
4. I think I’m well positioned for what I think I’ll need to do to qualify—something like: 70/5/5:30/5/4:40= 11:30