Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year from Mendoza!

Had our team meal tonight--some nice Argentenian beef and a Malbec!  I really like our team.  We all talked ages today and confirmed I am the oldest although the Spices are 51 and 53 so close together.  anders is the youngest climber with the other four between 27 and 29--a young group on average despite my participation.

We went out into the streets and toasted New Yearś Argentina style--this seems to involve the locals dreinking a lot and shootin off very loud fireworks....

A very pleasant night--I say around 78 degrees or so.  tomorrow we drive to Los Pentientes at 11 and weĺl stay at the hotel there overnight before out climb begins in earnest on the 2nd.

Iĺl try to post one last time tomorrow before turning the blog back over to Judy.

Happy New Year and beam us energy!

Final preparations

We met our full team today.  The Spices arrived--a husband and wife team in their late 40s to provide a bit of contrast to the decidedly under  30 composition of our team.  We had a team meeting and went over and went through the process of securing our climbing permits.  It is quite a process but our guides did a great job of smoothing the way for us.  Looking at the permit I can see that I will receive 2-3 medical examinations along the way to see if my body is deemed fit enough to climb--we'll see how it goes (although I know I am fit enough).

We've spent the afternoon getting our bags in order--there is quite a bit of logistical overhead in a trip like this....we are looking forward to getting out and climbing and enjoying the mountains.  Tonight we have a team dinner and tomorrow it{s off to the hotel at Los Pentitentes....

Sunday, December 30, 2012


So we find ourselves safely in Mendoza this evening.  A new continent and two new countries for me today!

All of our equipment and most of our team made it today.  We met our three guides who are all very cool--and very young!  The other four team members we met, two brothers and a friend and a single guy, are also all very cool.  and very young.  Im going to be the old guy it appears....not that this will be a new phenonmenom...

Mendoza seems pretty laid back--although it is a Sunday night so who knows for sure.  It is very hot here.  Anders and I went out for dinner tonight (pizza and Andes beer) and it was over 90 degrees after 8 pm.  It also stays light past 9pm, which is a switch from the Northern Hemisphere.

Prior to that two of our guides came by to check out our equipment.  Not surprisingly we had the right stuff and we had too much of the right stuff.  We also got the lowdown on how to pack for all the various phases of the trip.  Being who I am, I spent the time after dinner trying to execute on my repack while Anders read.  I bothered him with all sorts of questions and in the end we arrived at a place in the middle--I accomplished enough to feel comfortable enough to go to bed and was only a minor irritant to him.  Tomorrow, we have more work to do.

We are staying at a modest hotel right in the middle of Mendoza.  We have three tiny beds in a tinier room.  Anders is in one bed, Iḿ in another and anders´ stuff is in the third--my is stuffed around the perimeter.  We have the AC blasting, which has probably managed to lower it to a reasonable 82-84 degrees....Of course, this is the luxurious part of the trip!

Anders feels a bit tired from our 33-hour trip to get here.  I, at least at this point, feel great!  I´m well rested and feeling good about our about our chances--we are taking it one day at a time.

IMG Team 2 summited today--putting 4 out of 5 on the summit (thatś 4 of 13 so far this year), so good far as I know, the weather continues to look good....

Iĺl be able to blog a little more as I do have internet access here in Mendoza--then itś a handoff to Judy.

time for some sleep.....

ON the ground in Santiago

Randy here at the American Airlines Club Lounge in Santiago with Anders.  I thought I would take the opportunity that internet access presents to jump back in and post--I hope the current blogmaster, Judy, is cool with that!

As Judy mentioned, our flight was cancelled out of Miami but we were successful in jumping on the next one at 11:15 last night.  Sleepy pills made for an uneventful trip down.  the view out the window as we hugged the western coast of South American was impressive--those Andes appear to be quite the mountain range!

The weather is beautiful here in Santiago--70s, sunny and mountains all around.  We won't be able to do much more than look out windows as we are in transit to Mendoza--we have a five hour layover here.  We couldn't be happier though (well a shower might be nice) as we have internet access and coffee and light food things to revive us.  My Priority Pass card allows us access to airport VIP clubs all over the world and we're in one now.  We're both well into our third expressos and the world is a very happy place now!

The near and longer-term ensemble forecast for our time on the mountain looks very promising.  (Of-course, these are nototiously inaccurate at the 14-day time frame, but hey, we'll take it!)  The IMG Team Two group slept at C3 (high camp) last night and the weather looks perfect for a summit attempt today--my guess is that they'll go for it and get some folks up there--we wish them well!  Our summit window (13th-15th) looks like lighter (10-20 mph) winds and moderating (minus 5 to 10 degrees F) temps.  If we could lock it in somehow we would!

After arriving in Mendoza this evening we'll meet our 11-person team that will be our temporary family for the next three weeks.....We start the actual march in on 1/2....onward and upward!

Well, the boys are off!  This is Judy (Mrs. RC) taking over the blog for the next few weeks. I dropped them off at Philly airport yesterday and they made it out before the snow.  I was a little choked up to send them off for 3 weeks on this adventurous (to them) but scary (to me) endeavor.  I am comforted by my faith in their remarkable capacity to endure Herculean hardships and, most importantly, their ability to make smart decisions in challenging situations.

Their 5 hour layover in Miami turned into 8, but they finally left for Santiago, Chili around midnight.   They'll have another long layover before they fly to Mendoza this afternoon.  Quite the effort to get there!  However, given the assorted piles of climbing gear, backpacks, sunglasses, food, technical clothes, boots, etc all over our house these past weeks, sitting in an airport for 8 hours pales in comparison to the effort they put into getting ready!  I've seen Randy and Anders get ready for many triathlons and other adventures over the years, but the amount of planning and preparation that went into this was unprecedented.

While they've been flying south to embark on their adventure, the rest of us enjoyed our first snow in Delaware, drank wine, played "Apples to Apples", and ate the rest of their mountain energy food they left behind (peanut M + M's and oreos).   Thanks Guys!

I have a huge topographical map of Aconcagua on my wall, lots of weather and climbing sites bookmarked on my computer, and their promise to check in by satellite phone daily.  I will do my best to keep you updated on their progress.  I am not quite the "stat" guru that Randy is, so you might not have as many numbers, charts, and graphs as usual, but maybe, like me, you skip over those anyway!  Feel free to email me with any questions:  

Saturday, December 29, 2012

On our way!

We are all packed up--each with two 150L expedition bags.  We both have around 75-80 pounds of mountain stuff and about 10 pounds of civilian stuff.  We'll leave later behind us at the hotel.  Some of the mountain stuff will never get higher than base camp so the mules will haul it around.  Probably looking at 50 pounds coming up with us in the end.  About 10 of that is food, which will diminish of course as the days pass.

We leave around noon today and fly to Miami.  After the layover, we have about an 8.5 hour flight to Santiago and from there connect to Mendoza.  We should be in Mendoza around noon tomorrow and we'll meet our team and get ready for the expedition on the 31st.  New Year's Day will find us moving to Los Pentitentes, where we'll hang for a day and get things sorted out for the mules.  Then the approach march begins on the 2nd.

The very long-range forecast (for what it's worth--which isn't much) for our summit window of 1/13-15 is for 10 degrees below zero F and 30 mph winds, which is probably doable, although, obviously would present some challenges.

The IMG Team Two carried to C3 yesterday and is in position to attempt the summit either tomorrow or the 31st--we wish them well!  The RMI Team Two is at C1 and will carry to C2 today if all goes well.

We've been interacting with our teammates via e-mail...even bringing some spare crampons to help out one of new team members....

I'm nervous but excited.  The new and unknown is always a bit unsettling--which of-course is part of the point of it!

In any event, I'm signing off now.  My thoughts will be recorded in a simple paper diary.  However, we'll be calling in each day to Judy wno will now take over blogging duties for the next three weeks.

Here we go!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Final Preparations--Aconcagua

Well, we leave in a little over 36 hours.  Good news from the front as the IMG Team 2 carried to C2 yesterday--this means that they are possible two days from a summit attempt.  the weather continues to be "good"--30 mph winds and 15 to 20 below zero...Anders and I would gladly take that for our summit shot!

We did our last "hard" training session is a picture (click for a better view!):

We spent the evening focusing on logistics and I was able to lay out everything and go through my list (three times)....tomorrow we pack up and get ready to rock:

Prior to packing up Judy tried out my minus 30 degree sleeping haven:

Finally, I made a little map for Judy to follow us on--here is a close up of the action from our Base Camp (Argentina) through our three high camps and then down to the traverse Base Camp at Plaza de Mulas--I'll describe more about this tomorrow.

Also, We plan to talk to Judy each day via SAT phone and she'll be our faithful blogger---you can follow our exploits daily if you wish!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Anticipated Itinerary

Here is rough overview of our anticipated itinerary for our expedition to Aconcagua:

12/29-30 Fly from Philadelphia to Miami to Santiago (Chile) to Mendoza (Argentina)
12/31       Get organized and meet climbing team (3 guides, 8 climbers)
1/1 Travel to Los Penitentes-pack/rest—8,500 (feet of elevation)
1/2         Drive to Punta del Vacas—trek to Puente Pampa de Lenas (Approach Camp 1)—7,900 to       9,700
1/3 Trek to Casa de Piedra (A2)—10,600
1/6 Trek to Base Camp (Plaza Argentina)--13,700
1/7 Rest day at Plaza Argentina
1/8 Carry to C1—15,400.  Sleep at Base.
1/9 Move to C1
1/10 Carry to C2 (Helicopter Camp)—17,800.  Sleep at C1
1/11 Move to C2
1/12 Move to C3 (Colera)--19,500
1/13-15 All potential summit days
1/14-16 Day after summit hike out to Plaza de Mulas—14,400
1/15-17 Hike to Los Penitentes
1/16-18 Drive to Mendoza
1/19 Fly home

As you can see we are approaching Aconcagua the "long" way from the Vacas and Relincho River Valleys.  If all goes well, we'll come down on the other side and complete our tranverse of the mountain by hiking the 20 miles out the Horcones River Valley.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Aconcagua Update

The weather has been horrible on Aconcagua for the past 10 days.  Each of the first teams of the year from IMG and RMI did not summit.  The IMG team (whis is our guide service) did not get much higher than C1 at 15,700 feet--they basically hung at Base Camp for a week.  Winds were 60-110 mph for over 10+ days.  Apparently there was a big lenticular cloud squatting on the summit--the dread "White Wind" of Aconcagua.  I certainly feel for these folks--all they put into this effort and to not really get a chance to do any significant climbing.  Just shows how unpredictable climbing this mountain is.  It's one of the reasons only 30% successfully summit.

Both the Team Twos are at or up above base camp now and you can follow their progress at:

Their is actually good news in forecast ahead.  By Saturday the winds are projected to drop to 10-20 mph and actually to be calm by sunday morning.  Also the temperatures are forecasted to rise pretty dramatically--even reaching 0 degrees F by Sunday--wind chills climb above zero for the first time since I've been checking the forecast.

We are keeping at it training wise.  I entered a charity 5k yesterday and did it in under 50 minutes carrying 55 pounds on my back.  I did another 4.5 miles today and my altimeter said I logged 2150 vertical up feet.  Getting on the bike and occasionally running as well.

My extensor tendons in my right foot continue to be tender--clearly aggravated by climbing and my right knee continues to be a situation normal!

We leave on the 29th and after Christmas will complete all of our checklists and be on our way!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

And so Aconcagua becomes real

so you know, Anders and I are actually going to try to climb this beast...

I've been riding my trainer 1-2 hours each day.  Then, hoisting 70 pounds on my back and hiking/climbing 2-3 hours.  then going out for a run for up to an hour....

Still, I'm also trying to recover from my two IMs over a five-week timeframe....

Strange place I am in.  But I am surely getting stronger at hauling--and pretty quickly--a lot of stuff on my back....

Still, Cerro Aconcagua is now a real (and somewhat intimidating) presence in my life....  We leave in 17 days...

Just for yucks, I checked the weather forecast on the summit for the next 6 it is:

Ambient Temp

12/14: 0/-4 (this is in farenheight unfortunately)
12/15: 5/0
12/16: 7/1
12/17: 10/1
12/18: 1/-11
12/19: -11/-13

Wind (lo to high)

12/14: 30-45 mph
12/15: 30-25
12/16: 25-30
12/17: 35-45
12/18: 60-65
12/19: 70-75

(Hopefully from this you get it about Aconcagua--when the wind is light, it sucks...when it's bad it's a hurricane!)


12/14-12/17: clear
12/18: cloudy
12/19: clear

what is sobering about this is the strong winds are NOT a function of a storm....

Wind Chill:

12/14: -31/-35 (this is farenheight!)
12/15: -22/-29
12/16: -17/-24
12/17: -17/-31
12/18: -33/-51
12/19: -51/-54

Obviously, this is very instructive.  All of these days would prove to be extremely challenging.  the 18th and 19th are probably fatal for any one who would really try to summit.

I'll talk more about my bod and head and as I get ready for this thing but for those of you who follow me---this is really the scariest thing I've ever thought about doing....

Monday, December 10, 2012

Last week

Trying to strike a balance between getting ready for Aconcagua and letting my body recover to get ready to hit it again in 2013 for the tri season.  Last week's stats:

Swim: 0
Bike: 167 miles
Run: 3.2 miles
climbing: 6:05
Total time: 17:30

Friday, December 7, 2012

IMAZ Race Report

Sorry to take so long but here it is:

2012 Ironman Arizona
November 18th, 2011


Location: Tempe, AZ
Distance: 2.4-mile swim/112-mile bike/26.2-mile run
2012 Triathlon Race Number: 12
Career Triathlon Race Number: 126
Ironman Race Number: 11
Conditions: Partly to mostly sunny.  Mid 50s to mid 70s.  Wind up to 15-20 mph and a 62-degree water temperature.

IMAZ was to be my final triathlon of a very interesting multi-sport season.  While, it was only my 12th triathlon of the year, the 2012 season has been one of the most ambitious of my multi-sport career.  In addition to the triathlons, I had the privilege of competing in the Race Across America (RAAM) as part of an eight-person relay in June.  In July, I completed the 153-mile Race Around Mount Rainier in One Day (RAMROD).  Still on tap, is Anders’ and my 22-day expedition to climb Cerro Aconcagua in Argentina, at the end of December.

IMAZ was certainly NOT my focus for the 2012 season.  In fact, just five weeks prior I had the honor of competing in my second Ironman World Championship in Kona.  With my taper leading into Kona, which commenced in late September, and my recovery post Kona 2012, and then taper for IMAZ, I had effectively gone the prior seven weeks before IMAZ without my normal IM race-specific training.  While, I felt good and fully recovered from Hawaii, I certainly had a lot of question marks about my actual level of fitness—especially endurance--for this race.

In this wasn’t enough of a challenge, a friend of mine gave us late notice on his 70th birthday party and so I found myself the two days before the race up in Las Vegas, which is more than 300 miles northwest of the race site in Tempe, Arizona.  In fact, at 1:30am on Sunday, race morning, I found myself sitting in the Wynn casino in Las Vegas, listening to Paul McCartney perform Let It Be.  Indeed, the night before my IMAZ race, I attended a 70th birthday party that featured Robin Williams, John Fogerty, and Paul McCartney and his band.  It also involved a lot of walking around and dancing (but only sparkling water drinking).

In any event, I chartered a plane for the quick flight down to Phoenix and by 4 a.m. I was back at my hotel and eating my PB&J sandwiches as I tried to preserve at least a modicum of IM race preparation normalcy.  Soon, I had completed all of that more normal pre-race stuff and found myself sitting on a dock at the side of Tempe Town Lake at 6:50 a.m. “ready” to go.

This was to be my 11th Ironman.  I was once again competing in the IMXC group for a shot at a return trip to Kona.  For a variety of reasons my expectations for this outcome were quite low—and appropriately so.  Of course, as you would gather from above, my race prep was not ideal for this race.  But more importantly, my XC AG featured two competitors who were vastly more talented than I: John O’Brien and Wyman Roberts.  Realistically, third place in the XC AG would be a great outcome for me.

Despite all of this I was excited to race and I was focused on gratitude, which was to be my key word for this race.  I wanted to make sure, not matter what happened today, that I took time to reflect on how lucky I was to be here and racing once again.  I’m certainly not the most talented triathlete around, but I was indeed fortunate to be able to get my 55-year old body to the starting line of another one of these great tests!  I was focused on explicitly reminded myself of all that I have to be grateful for as the day unfolded.  And with that thought, I pushed away from the dock and swam out to join the other 2433 athletes whom would start this race.

The Swim

When I pushed off from the dock and went under I was struck by how cold the water was.  Objectively, I knew it was the same temp, more or less as last year when I did this race, but it seemed to me to be much colder on this morn.  I must confess that coming into this race I thought that about the IMAZ swim as my least favorite IM swim (and the soon to happen 2012 swim certainly did not change my view on this).  I felt a little shaky and timid as I swam out under the two bridges to join the fray.

Last year, I went to the far left—on the buoy line—and that seemed in retrospect to be a poor choice as I swam 78:20, despite clearly being in sub 70 shape.  I felt I was once again ready to go 68-72 and so my original plan was to be more towards the middle in hope of swimming a good line but at the same time avoiding some portion of the crowd.

As I swam out it looked like a zoo in the middle so I drifted to the right and ultimately ended up about 15 yards from the right wall--where all the spectators gather.  I’ve heard all the warnings about this choice but for whatever reason, it seemed the better choice to me ay 6:56 a.m.

Mike Reilly was doing his thing and at one point he asked all the first timers to let out a cheer.  Just about everyone around me did so…oh boy, and I was just 2-3 swimmers back from the start line (yes I know I should have been a bit further back but my plan was to swim a couple of 1:10-1:15 hundreds and just settle in after that).

At the gun, I simultaneously took a kick to my right ear and had some one push my legs down…Uggggh!  I tried to right myself and made some progress but I was being frequently run over and pushed down.  I’m a big guy and normally I just kick and flare out my arms and get all gnarly and folks leave me alone, but I felt strangely weak at this point.  Very soon into the swim, I felt my HR spike and my legs and arms getting that not very desirable anaerobic feeling.  I just couldn’t get horizontal enough to establish a rhythm and these first 60-70 seconds progressed my body slipped deeper into a non-sustainable status.

I began to hyperventilate and felt a wave of panic crawling it’s way up into the more animal parts of my brain.  I’ve only had this happen once before in 126 triathlons (Eagleman 2008) and I knew I had a relatively short time to ease the stress and get my body to settle down before I could proceed.  (In Eagleman 2008 I merely pulled way right, as I had started on the right side, and flipped over on my back and just calmly regained my equilibrium).  How to do it in this washing machine?

All of a sudden I knew I needed to get to the sidewall.  This entailed swimming across about 15 people rows of traffic but as soon as I thought of this I was on my way.  I literally pushed, shoved and (sorta’) punched my way to the wall, which I reached in a very surprisingly short period of time.  I was elated to find a ledge of sorts that I was able to hoist my very stressed body up onto.  By the way, I hereby publically apologize to all the folks I messed up to get to safety—believe me I did not expect this!

I sat on the ledge and felt my heart racing—absolutely pegged—and I was breathing at probably 90 bpm.  I heard some kind folks above me telling me to relax and just sit there.  I’m sure I looked like some old novice fool who had no business racing IMAZ.  Part of me wanted to scream at them to tell them that I was a very accomplished triathlete, I had just done Kona, and…but sometimes its better to just be quiet and accept that another’s unfavorable view of you has more than just a sliver of the truth in it….

I sat there for what seemed like an hour waiting for my body to chill out.  It was absurd, I was about 60-70 yards into the swim and just sitting there watching hundreds of people—most of whom on a normal day are very much slower than I—swim past me.  I tried to remember the whole gratitude thing and I asked myself what I was grateful for now.  I started laughing out loud as it was clear that I was indeed very grateful for the ledge that I had parked my butt on!

After what probably was really only 60-90 seconds, I dropped back in and swam right up close to the wall.  My HR spiked a few more times and two of those times I grabbed the wall and waited for things to calm down again.  Man, I was really, really struggling here.  Soon however, I was finally able to establish a comfortable rhythm.  I was more than a little rattled and I wasn’t really sure what was going on (although the rational part of my brain was telling me that I was tired, I had drank too much coffee and got off to a bad start and there was nothing fundamentally wrong with me) so I decided to be really conservative.  I swam easily and I stayed within 20 feet of the wall for quite a while—I knew I was swimming a longer course but at this point I didn’t care.  I know I’ll die at some point but I certainly do not want it to be in Tempe Town Lake!

The swim towards the early morning sun continued and my body relaxed and with that change I began to drift a bit away from the wall.  I started trying to swim through swimmers but I knew I was way behind where I normally was in an IM swim.  The rest of the swim was anticlimactic, as it progressed I actually began to feel stronger and as I passed people left and right I began to feel like maybe I could still turn in a half-way decent swim (I’m amazed at how overly optimistic I still get in triathlons despite all of my experience and a large amount of historical negative data).

I finally exit the swim—and very, very pleased to do so—in a very slow 84:13 (84:23 officially).  Ouch!  But in the rational light of two weeks hence, a lot better than the worse case scenarios for sure!  My Garmin had my swim distance at 2.66 miles (I’m not sure how accurate this is but I know I swam quite a bit longer course than I needed too!), which works out to an average pace of 1:48/100 yards.  If I throw out the 3 minutes or so I wasted at the start and if I had swam 2.4 miles this indicates a time of 73 minutes so it all seems to compute.  I had a bad swim this morning—but this was not an indication of my inherent fitness and my potential this morning.

The Garmin also had me at 2926 strokes, which works out to just 1.6 yards/stroke—I would have expected 1.8+ so this is consistent with a lot of panicky flailing around.   This is the 8th fastest of my 11 IM swims and is more than 18 minutes off of my best.   Competitively, I have just the 1392nd OA best swim (42.8 %-tile vs. 58.4 %-tile last year—which also sucked).  I’m 49th out of 98 in my AG (51.0 %-tile vs. 68.4 %-tile last year).

As far as the XC competition goes, I’m over nine minutes behind each of my main rivals, which is not a good development since I’m actually a stronger swimmer than both of them.  Oh well, my main emotion as I climbed up the steep stairs out of Tempe Town Lake was one of relief.  I was truly grateful that this swim was behind me!

Transition One

I seemed to kind of stumble through transition and it ended up taking me 8:44 (7:58 officially).  This is considerably slower than my 5:16 last year, but last year I had a fantastic T1 (4th in my AG—98.2 %-tile).  I’m not sure where this stands competitively but I imagine it was a pretty middle of the road effort for me.  As I grabbed my bike I saw that John and Wyman were up the road ahead of me.  I noted this but it really had no impact on me.  I knew my swim and T1 were very poor and so I wasn’t surprised to be behind them.

The Bike

I was pretty happy to leave T1 and get on my bike.  I didn’t see any reason why I couldn’t better the 5:26 I did last year—the forecast was for light winds and comfortable temperatures.  After winding through the park I made my way out onto Rio Salado and I immediately became aware of a cyclic bump emanating from my rear wheel.  I looked down and the tire didn’t look flat but it was hard to tell with the 21mm tires I was running and the toroidal bulge in my Zipp disc.  Also, there was heavy bike traffic around me and I could only hurriedly and sporadically glance down.

I hoped that the bump would go away or that I was imagining things but unfortunately the bumping was persistent.  I rode for a few minutes trying to decide what to do and as I turned off of Rio Salado I decided to pull over to the side and see if I could figure out what was going on.  So I did and I felt my rear tire and I could instantly tell it was very soft—well underinflated.  I’d guess there was 40-60 PSI in there.  Uggggh!  What to do?  I knew, I couldn’t just ride the 112 miles like this—firstly it would be very slow due to the higher rolling resistance.  Secondly, I knew it was likely I’d get a pinch flat at some point or that the tire would continue to lose air and become unrideable.  Still, I wanted to avoid using one of my two CO2 cartridges for fear the air would just leak out.  I also was not psyched to change a tire off of the disc because I knew from experience that it would take quite a while to do so due to it’s “stiffness”.

I decided to take a gamble and ride up the road looking for an official bike mechanic and address the problem there.  I mounted back up and shook my head—this certainly had a “one of those days” feel to it.

I went through 5 miles in 15:20 (19.6 mph) and a HR of 152.  I estimate that I lost about 2 minutes during this first five-mile stretch due to the soft tire and my pull over to the side of the road.  Soon I found myself on the Beeline and I went through the next five mile split with a time of 17:02 (17.6 mph).  Here the big surprise was the wind, which while not strong in the context of Kona, was much more than the 5-mph that had been advertised.  I soldiered on.

Just past the 12-mile mark it appeared that my decision to look for bike help would really pay off as I spotted two mechanics under a bike tent.  I pulled over and asked if they could inflate my soft rear tire.  The readily obliged and I felt like maybe my luck would soon change but as the needle passed 100 PSI a loud boom and a rush of air sounded out.  We could see the latex tube had escaped out the side of the disc.  I’m not sure why this happened.  The XC guys had deflated my tires when they checked my bike in while I was up in Vegas and perhaps when we re-inflated them this morning the tube somehow got between the tire bead and the wall of the disc rim.  In any event, it was clear that I was going to be staying for a little while longer as they scrambled to take my rear tire off and to change out the offending tube.

Not to my surprise, the tire-changing process proved difficult even for the trained mechanics as they struggled getting the 21mm tire off of the disc.  For whatever reason, it’s a real bear to change tires off of that wheel!  Finally, they managed to get a new tube in and as they were blowing it up, the new tube also exploded!  Oh-oh.  I asked if they thought the tire might be an issue but they checked it and said no.  As they began to go for tube number three I decided to walk back down the road and hit the porta-potty.

After, as I strolled back to the tent I could see them pumping up the new tube and sure enough—boom!  Flat number three!  They were very embarrassed and flustered and one of the guys suggested that he give it a try, as the other fellow was 0 for 2.  This seemed like a good call to everyone and so tube number four came out.  This time they were successful and I thanked them for their help and was back underway.  As I rode away, I asked myself what I was grateful for and it was clear that I was happy not to have 4 or 5 flats!

I estimate that I was on the side of the road for 12-13 minutes and I resigned myself to just doing the best I could and to try to have some fun.  I went through the next 5-mile split with a time of 27:21 (11.0 mph) and a heart rate of 133 (although, this only measured my HR when I was near the bike, which was only about 60% of that time).

I now found myself having to weave through a multitude of slower riders—normally I would have been 30 minutes up the road towards the front of the pack.  This proved quite challenging as many times they were 3-4 wide and made it impossible to pass.  Also, the bike handling skills back here left a bit to be desired….

The rest of the bike was comparatively un-dramatic.  I had to dodge a number of misplaced water bottles and sudden swerves from bikers ahead but I was able to steadily make my way up through traffic and I actually rode reasonably well.  After the first lap I was on close to a 6+ hour pace but I was finally able to complete the bike in 5:49:23 (5:50:15 officially).  Here are the rest of my splits (time, speed, HR)—note, my PM never worked so I did not capture any power or cadence data:

16-20: 18:20/16.4/146
21-25: 10:24/28.8/137
26-30: 12:33/23.9/137
31-35: 14:03/21.4/137
36-40: 14:38/20.5/140
41-45: 15:01/20.0/143
46-50: 15:25/19.5/143
51-55: 16:42/18.0/137
56-60: 13:47/21.8/137
61-65: 13:48/21.7/135
66-70: 14:18/21.0/132
71-75: 14:45/20.3/131
76-80: 15:22/19.5/135
81-85: 15:49/19.0/137
86-90: 16:07/18.6/133
91-95: 17:30/17.2/134
96-100: 13:37/22.0/129
101-105: 15:20/19.6/130
106-110: 15:34/19.3/138
111-112: 6:31/19.2/129

So as I mentioned above, I rode a 5:49:23 according to my Garmin.  Here is how my 3-laps compared to last year:

 2012  2011  Delta

Lap 1: 2:02:31 1:45:15 +17:16
Lap 2: 1:50:29 1:50:51 (0:22)
Lap 3: 1:57:15 1:50:35 + 6:40

The 17 minutes I lost in the first lap are of-course principally due to my misadventures with my rear wheel.  I’m pleased that I was actually faster on my second lap this year (which I think shows I had the potential to ride 5:20 this year).  The slow-down in the last lap is really a function of a lack of effort on my part.  I could see that John and Wyman were a long ways ahead of me and as I tired, I just couldn’t see the point of pushing through the fatigue like I would normally be inclined to do.

For the overall ride I averaged 19.2 mph and 136 bpm.  Last year I averaged 20.6 mph with an average HR of 141 bpm.  Last year I was 83.7 %-tile OA on the bike and 90.5 %-tile in my AG.  I’m still not certain where I finished OA (I did move up from 1392 to 955 OA) but I was 33rd in my AG this year (67.4 %-tile).  XC-wise, I was now 44+ minutes behind O’Brien and 48+ minutes behind Wyman.

Transition Two

I was business-like but unhurried as I made my way through T2.  I felt very tired—more so than normal at this point of an Ironman and I was over 30 minutes slower at this point than last year.  Still, I thought if I was conservative early on the run, maybe I could rally and eat into the relatively slow 4:58 marathon that I posted in 2011 (had to deal with significant hamstring cramps last year).  I completed my T2 in 4:46, which not surprisingly was slower than my 2011 time of 3:37.

The Run

I headed out from transition and saw Rob Holmes and waved hi to him.  He gave me a nice congrats on Kona.  I felt pretty decent in the early goings and I didn’t have any of the cramping problems from last year—I had done a pretty good job of drinking Cytomax throughout the bike and only had to switch over to the dreaded Perform at about mile 70.

I was aware that I was very tired and I decided that I was going to just take it easy—I had no chance to get a Kona slot (not that I really ever did against the XC guys I was up against) and with all my problems heretofore, it was just a good thing that I was still in the game.  Here is how my first five miles played out:


At this point, as I trudged up the hill in the park I was acutely aware of how tired I was.  It was clear that I wasn’t going to have a miraculous run so I decided that I should back off from this very modest pace and try to walk and run a bit and just get through the Marathon.  I decided to pursue this strategy for the next five miles:


As you might discern in the numbers above, as I came through the first lap I pushed my 9th and 10th miles a bit in hope of maybe staging a bit of a rally.  I was on the far west bridge at 10 miles when I realized the folly of this approach.  I decided to just shut it down and walk for the most part.  At this point, I can tell you only two thoughts dominated my brain—how tired and sore I was, and how--for sure--I was going to finish.  The next five miles:


I was so so so tired but I actually felt like I could go faster at this point.  Frankly, I was getting bored going so slow and with no one out there to cheer for me I decided I’d start running more to try to speed up the process:


I ran the math and knew that sub 13 was not happening—not that I would expect it with all of my early race challenges—but if I kept on my current approach then at least my marathon would be less than 6 hours (praise be for such minor victories).  So I kept on:


I finished the marathon in 5:56:25.  My average HR was just 127bpm.  I was about 58 minutes slower than 2011 and I ended up splitting 58th in my AG on the run (41.8 %-tile).  Wyman went on to post a 10:52 so no matter what I did today a Kona slot was certainly not in the cards.  My overall time was 13:23:48.  This was 1:37 slower than 2011 and was the 6th fastest of my 11 IMs—despite my problems, this is an easy and fast course compared to many of the other IMs I’ve done.

I was 41st in my AG, which surprisingly was 59.2 %-tile.  Overall, I was 1394th—which ironically was 2 places behind where I exited the water…it was that kinda day!


In retrospect, I got the race I deserved.  I’m a man of limited talents and when I push it like I did this year (two IMs in 5 weeks and staying up and partying the night before) then it’s to be expected that I’ll perform poorly.

Still, I’m glad I did it this way.  I didn’t blow a Kona slot—even at my best, I had no chance at this race.  And I had a great time at my friend’s party.  Also, I finished my 11th IM and I’m very, very grateful to still be in the game given the sad state of my knee.

Looking ahead, Anders and my 22-day expedition to climb Cerro Aconcagua occupies center stage.  I’m enjoying the change in training activities that this endeavor requires.  In many respects, even with all that I have accomplished this year, the final exam still awaits.  I hope that I can rise to the occasion.

2013 is already in the planning stages.  Anders is doing Norseman Xtreme and Judy and I will crew for him.  Both of us have targeted IM Lake Tahoe as our “A” race next year so I think once I return from Argentina that I’ll take it a bit easy until May or so and then gear it up again and see if I can’t get back to Kona for the third time with that race out in California.

Thanks for reading!  Onward and upward!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

November totals

Swim: 18,682 yards
Bike: 576 miles
Run: 68 miles
Climbing: 6:25
Time: 58:54

I seem to be nicely recovering from IMAZ and my main focus is preparing my body for Cerro Aconcagua.  I'm biking, running and "rucking" or treking/climbing with a 70 pound pack.  the latter is a nice change from the ol' SBR!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Everything After

so my body is starting to return to normalcy--it was definitely a difficult recovery this time around--the two IMs in five weeks thing seemed to be more than what this 55-yo body is best suited for....

I have now turned my attention to getting ready for Cerro Aconcagua.  I have been hiking 2+ hours each day with 70 pounds on my back--very enjoyable and quite different than triathlon training...

More on that later.  Also, I'll be penning my IMAZ race report shortly....

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Quick IMAZ update

Back in my room looking at a cheeseburger with one bite out of it....the good news is I'm almost halfway through a Corona!

Tough Day at the office for your truly.  and yes anders, there was definitely some sucking up by the buttercup.  Bottom line I finished my 11th IM.

I had to deal with two unusual challenges today during the race:
-on the swim, I got pummeled right from the start (I foolishly set up near the wall on the right).  I got pushed under by a procession of swimmers.  I had trouble getting air.  I couldn't get horizontal to make progress.  I started to hyperventilate and my HR skyrocketed.  Fortunately, I had enough wits about me to swim across the flow of the swimmers and made the ledge by the wall.  I had to sit there for 4-5 minutes before my HR settled and I felt calm enough (this is 70 yards into the swim).  I started swimming but had the same hyperventilation/HR problem a couple of more times and had to rest twice more--but for less time.  finally I settled down and was good to go.  However, I stayed close to the wall throughout as a safety measure and my Garmin shows 2.8 miles swum--this is why my swim time stunk.

-on the bike I had 3 flats--all inside of the second bike split (from 15 to 30k).  Plus my rear tire was underinflated during the first split.  I'll need to analyze the data but it looks like I lost nearly 20 minutes due to this

Also, contrary to the forecast, it was quite windy (windier than 2011) on the bike route.

I was exhausted by the time i got to the run--the whole go to Vegas, get back at 3 and sleep for 10 minutes thing apparently does not lead to fast IM times.

O'Brien DNF'ed again but Wyman went 10:50--even in my best dreams, I can't touch that...

more latter!

IMAZ Update #8

13:23:48 - another Ironman finish for RC.

Congrats, and thanks as always for putting on a good show!  

IMAZ Update #7


RC went through mile 22 at 12:20 and at this pace we should see coming in 13:10 (+/- 10 minutes).

Beam him some energy for the final push.  Bring it in strong!

IMAZ Update

RC is still cruising and has entered the last half of the marathon in just over 10 hours of race time.  This last half is going to be tough, but he's a tough guy who knows how to get the job done.  Keep on truckin' RC.  

And some inspiration:

IMAZ Update #5

Hey there RC fans.  The big guy is off of the bike and working his way through the marathon.  RC ended up holding an super steady pace on the bike averaging about 19.2mph.  He seemed to have kept up a strong pace throughout the end of  the bike, so hopefully this means he is feeling good and ready to run a strong final leg.

Right now he is rounding out his first 5k and holding about 9.5 minute miles.  I know he will be happy to keep this pace up.

Let's continue to cheer him on!

IMAZ Update #4

RC is through the halfway point on the bike in just under three hours averaging around 18.6 mph.  My guess is that he is just taking it easy and working towards another solid IM finish.  Interestingly, his pace seems to be improving quite a bit, so he could be building through the last half of the bike course.  

Send him some energy vibes!

For some inspiration, a little Johnny Cash.  Embrace the hurt!

IMAZ Update #3

Race Update
So we are well into the bike right now and RC is cruising along.  There are 12 bike check points this year, and he came through the first ~10 miles averaging 18.2mph.  This is a solid clip to start the bike off with.  At the third checkpoint we will have a better idea of how he is stacking up against his race there last year.

Competition update
RCs two main competitors for a Kona Slot are John O'Brien and Wyman Roberts.  These two racers are tough and have both gone sub-11 at the IM distance before.  O'Brien came out with a swim time of 1:15 and Roberts a 1:16, putting them both about 9 minutes up on RC.  Time to make up some time on the bike!!

I'll update again after the third bike split.  

IMAZ Update #2

Part 1 of IM Arizona is done.  RC came in with a time of 1:24:23, which is a little slower than his last effort in Tempe.  I'm guessing he likely took an outside line to avoid the washing machine in the Tempe Town Lake.

He is now off on the bike where he will surely put some time on his competitors.  The IMAZ course with no wind has RC written all over it.

In my next update I'll talk about where he is in relation to other Age Group contenders.

Ride fast!

IMAZ Update #1

Good morning sports fans.  Anders here - I'll be taking over the reigns on the blog for the rest of the race.

The first of the pros are out of the water in 48 minutes, which would indicate that the swim is fairly fast this year.  This is good news for RC who is hoping to swim around ~70 minutes today.

The weather looks pretty solid for this race.  Cool this morning ending up with highs in the mid-70s and almost no wind.  Let's hope this weather holds.

I'll check in later once we have some more information from the swim.  

Tempe--sunday morning

Well, I'm back here in Tempe, in my hotel room and getting ready to head to transition to get evrything set up.

Last night was wild.  We saw robin williams, John Fogerty (of Creedence Clearwater Revival fame), and then Paul McCartney and his band.  After a quick charter flight home, I got back to my hotel room here at 3:10am.  Ate my PB&Js, laid down for about an hour--I may have napped for 10 minutes, and it's now 4:45am.

Here we go!

The next entries will be by IM partner and son Anders....I hope to give you a short summary of the race sometime latter tonight.....

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Saturday afternoon, Vegas

Enjoyed some good luck at the tables last night.

Ran for 15 and biked for 30 in the hotel today.  did not feel that great running.  My right extensor tendons are feeling flaky again--I loosened my right shoe up a bit and hope they can handle 26 miles of pounding tomorrow.

I'm surprised that I'm actually feeling nervous right now about tomorrow....perhaps doing this weird thing has thrown me off my game a bit....I hope it passes...

just laying low in my hotel room staying off my feet...

waiting for the show tonight, and then the show tomorrow...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Vegas-Friday afternoon

OK, on the ground in Vegas.  Well actually, I'm 22 stories up seconded in my plush room at the Wynn...very nice.

At breakfast, which included the XC brethern, we were joined by Jordan Rapp, Lynsey Corbin, and the current IM and IM70.3 World Champ Leanda Cave.  Nice conversations and a group pic.

I then gave my bike and all my T1/T2 stuff to the XC guys.  Strange process this time around.  I hope I packed everything right and that my bike finds it's way into transition without me.  I won't have much time to make any adjustments on Sunday morning.  As per my previous post, I'm at peace with it all and looking forward to living my life over the next 2-3 days....will not be dull, that's for sure!

I talked to Anders who is on his way up to MT. Washington, which he intends to climb tomorrow--he is very excited and I wished him well...Aconcagua is just around the corner so dullness will be kept at bay even after the next 2-3 days!

As for Vegas, it's a beautiful day and I think I'll walk over and see the new center city complex, grab a bite to eat and maybe see if i can figure out how craps is played....

The calm before the storm!

Tempe--Friday morning

Inside of 48 hours now.  I got up early this morning and hit the Kiwanis wave pool when it opened--I was the only one there.  The Kiwanis wave pool is where you want to swim in Tempe pre-race.  I, for one, don't feel comfortable chancing swallowing Tempe Town Lake water 24 hours before my race start--if I'm going to get sick, I'd rather it be on Monday....

Normal protocol for me is to take the complete day off two days before my IM but with my Vegas thing going on I thought I'd do my swim this morning.  I was hopeful that I would be even faster this morning thinking that I might be slightly better adjusted to my wetsuit (which until wednesday, I had not worn for 5-6 weeks).  I swam 15:35 for 1000 yards--essentially the same time as Wednesday.  I think that my TYR FON is such a great wetsuit, that it's basically good to go all the time.  Anyways, this is a 65 minute pace and certainly indicates I have the fitness potential to swim sub 70 on Sunday.  Of course, that was also true last year when I swam 78 minutes.

The Arizona swim is very rough--at least for my pace--much more so than Kona.  Also, I probably made some tactical errors last year and this year I plan to start right in the middle of the field, up at the front (last year I was left on the buoy line).  Whether or not this proves to be a good idea will probably have a big impact on my time.  Still, I have to say that swimming slower than 72-minutes on Sunday would be underperforming...we'll see!

Anyways, I've done some thinking about my race and how I want to wrap my head around it.  I'm out here by myself and a Kona slot is not in my control (unlike last year when I was the strongest in my AG).  I need some people to have off days to have a realistic chance of getting a slot.  I don't expect this to happen and so I really don't feel any pressure to perform.  Consequently, the thoughts I'm going to hold in my head are thankfulness and appreciation.  I am truly blessed to be healthy (and wealthy) enough to do this.  I have a great group of friends and a family that supports me in this self-absorbed hobby.  I get to swim, bike, and run all day on Sunday--just like I did when I was a a sense I'm just a 55-year old kid.  And, while I'm no great shakes, I'm not to bad at it.  So no matter what happens on Sunday, I'm going to have a big smile on my face--someday I won't be able to do this, but that day has not yet come!

Off to Vegas!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Missives from the front

- Picked my bike up at Tri bike Transport today.  They had 600 bikes there--that's probably 25% of the field.  At $300 a pop that's also $180,000--quite a biz!

- No drama at all with the bike.  She's ready and able and I must say, still the prettiest girl at the dance.  I rode 16.5 miles today and I have to say I felt (and was) fast.  No problem cruising along at 20-24 mph on the flats.

- I ran a couple of miles this morning as well--even my run felt OK (which is, alas, as good as it gets these days).  I feel VERY tapered and ready.  Of-course the lack of any IM training (with the notable exception of the race itself at Kona) for the past 7 weeks may have impacted my endurance--the smart money says so anyways....I have no idea how my body will respond on race day.  I guess we'll find out on Sunday!

- I did all the things that one normally does the day before an IM this evening--60 hours before my IM.  I have to pass off my bike and T1/T2 bags tomorrow morning to the XC guys as I am flying to Las Vegas tomorrow for my 36-hour adventure up there.  I won't be back to my hotel roon until about 3:30am race morning, so I had to make my PB&J sandwiches tonight and get all my stuff laid out and ready to go....when I roll back in on Sunday morning it will be game time!

- This whole Vegas side trip is nuts but I'm very much looking forward to it.  I think I am becomming just a bit daft in my elder years....

- I met my two main competitors tonight at the XC dinner.  They are both a LOT better than I and I hope my bud John gets the Kona slot if (WHEN) I don't.  He DNF'ed at Kona in 2010 and he needs to go back and finish the race.

_ At the end of the day I am very blessed to be able to do this.  And do it I shall!  When the gun goes off at 7 am on sunday and the kung-fu begins I'll muscle up.  I know I'll relish hammering on the bike (at least for the first 80 miles).  And the run, well if it sucks, I at least have a great deal of experience in dealing with that sorta thing...

Here we go--more on Vegas in the posts ahead!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

IMAZ: Grounded!

Arrived here in Arizona mid day.  Drove out to our hotel and the race site purely by memory....and a lot of memories were triggered....a year ago Sparty and I came out here and claimed our XC Kona was a wonderful expereience!

This year I am absent my wingman (Sparty) and my on the ground support (Judy).  I'll miss them both!  the latter is obviously a significant negative from a competitive perspective.

I unpacked and organized.  My bike comes tomorrow so if I'm to have any drama it will be then.  I don't expect any and I am very calm about this, my 11th Ironman.

One of things I wanted to do was to climb the Hayden Butte (aka Oidbag Do'ag), which I didn't get to last year.  It's the iconic adensite butte that sits above Sun Devil stadium.  It's not much of a climb, as climbs go...just a climb from 350 to 456 meters (that's an elevation change of about 350 feet for those of you who are metrically challenged)...but quite steep.  I met a very cool guy at the top who had run up--he was a workplace fitness consultant who worked for Salomon--and we had a great conversation.

Anyways,  I bid goodbye and climbed down and made my way over to the Kiwanis Park Wave Pool.  Most people would not think to swim here if they were in town for IMAZ, but (thank-you Rappstar) it is definitely the place to do your pre-race swim stuff.  I met an older gent in the locker room who was doing his very first IM (he was worried about the midnight cut-off) but I assured him that he would do just fine.  There is truly nothing like your first IM--top of the life resume kinda thing!

I swam a very easy 1000 yard swim (in my wetsuit) in 15:32.  So, what to make of this?  This is about the equivalent of a 65 minute IM Swim.  Of course, you fatigue as the distance piles on, but I was definitely swimming considerably below a true race effort.  I felt this way last year and ended up swimming a 78 minute swim....I have some ideas tactically based on last year's experience that I think will help but who really knows?  Look, I should be able to swim 70 minutes on sunday (or perhaps faster) but my IM history gives no comfort that I can.  Of course, having competed at Kona less than 5 weeks ago,  I haven't really done any real IM training in 6 weeks now so my endurance in each of the three disciplines should definitely be suspect.

Still--I am very happy and content.  Probably more so than before any other IM I have ever done.  I don't expect to qualify for Kona on sunday and I'll certainly be cool if I don't.  I'm just thrilled to be able to do this.  I'm 55 years old and haven't really trained (like an IM) for 6 weeks and yet I know I can do this, and reasonably cool is that?

I talked to my good bud, BP tonight about the two of us doing IM Lake Tahoe next September....I am truly blessed!

More on the race to follow!

thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

all packed

this is going to be a strange one for sure!  5 weeks post Kona and my night/morning before jog up to Vegas for my friend's BD...who will it be (I'm betting the Rolling Stones)?  Really, before an Ironman? I love it!

I have a very small chance to qualify for Kona for my third time but I am very pumped to get up there and rock it is truly a great thing to still be able to do this!

Anders has agreed to live-it-out blogging...I sent him my secret sauce on how I qualify (17 people need to have  anyways, I hope you tune in because Anders plays it like it is....

I'll have a lot more from Tempe and I'll let you know who I'm rocking out with in Vegas...when we are rocking it!

This will be very cool!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Arizona T-minus One Week

Taper week of-course.  here's the data:

Swim: 6500 yards
bike: 128 miles
run: 11 miles
time: 11:20

I'll add a bunch of stuff next week prior to the race.  It will be crazy with my dash to Vegas on Friday and return back to Phoenix early in the morning on sunday just in time to race!

Anders, will be blogging again....

stay tuned!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Last Month and this week

October was obviously dominated by the taper into Kona for the first half of the month and the recovery after Kona for the second half of the month.  here were the totals:

Swim:  25,225 yards
Bike: 581 miles
Run: 85 miles
Time: 56:41

This past week, my body actually began to feel good enough that I was able to start to provide some real training stimulus again.  Still, not anything close to IM training but I think I at least didn't lose fitness this week:

Swim: 5,500 yards
Bike: 185 miles
Run: 24 miles
Time: 17:09

So it's now two weeks to IMAZ and I have really no idea how this strange five week period between Kona and Zona will ultimately affect my fitness.  We'll se on the 18th I guess.  In any event, I'm starting my run taper as of now.  I'll probably through a couple more harder bike w/os in before tapering starting mid-week for the bike.  I hope to have a fairly big swim week and will just use a 7 day taper for the swim.

Unchartered territory for sure!

Friday, November 2, 2012

ride today

three hours thirty-four minutes.  cold, windy and a bit of rain.   Don't tell anyone but I'm getting a bit of zip back in my legs!!!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Limitations and checklists

I had a pretty solid training day today but clearly, my bod is not designed to do an IM, take a few days off and then start hammering again for the next IM five weeks later.  Still, I had a good day today so I'm not going to fixate on my limitations--makes no sense.  Just as it makes no sense to get caught up in my capabilities.  I yam what I yam (as Popeye used to say).  I'm not as strong as I wish I was but it's pretty cool that I'm still in the game!

A good bud of mine said that one of the downsides to triathlon, especially IM is the massive challenge associated with checklist management.  All the things you need to do to be ready to tackle one of these beasts and all the stuff you need to bring to actually do it on race day.  And, if you forget one little thing you might be screwed....I got lucky with a couple of checklist oversights at Kona (really Randy, overlooking things at Kona!) that didn't take me out.

So now I'm working through my IMAZ checklist and at the same time working through my Cerro Aconcagua Expedition checklist.  The latter is my 21 day expedition to climb the highest mountain in the Southern and Western hemispheres with Anders starting Dec 29th.  IM has big checklists but at the end of the day, nothing compared to a high altitude alpine expedition....

interesting times....

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hump day

Half way between Kona and IMAZ and it's clear that my bod is not going to feel ready to rock in time to do any real IM training....lots of other stuff going on with sandy and trying to make sure two houses are safe--it appears that the latter is true, which we feel very blessed with....

We have Judy's parents and Kara staying with us as their abodes up near NYC are not that nice right now...

I'm not going to sweat it...I have enough base to do an IM at his point so I'll do as well as I can....I did get to the Y late this afternoon and swam 1500 yds in 23:45, which is not that bad for an old fart like me....

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Post Sandy

Survived the night just fine here in DE--we "only" got about 5-6 inches of rain so we didn't really have any water problems.  Also, no trees down and power stayed up the whole time.  Preliminary reports from Stone Harbor indicate that our house there was fine as well.  I hope to get there tomorrow to check out in person.

 Just been on the trainer so far but am going to head outside for a run shortly and hope to get back into the pool tomorrow....

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy and IMAZ

Well Sandy seems to be on a beeline for both of our homes.  Not much to be done about either at this point so we'll wait and see and pick up the pieces later this week.

Training-wise, my body is still telling me to go slow.  I was just able to get 12:20 in last week with 3250 yards/135 miles bike/17.3 miles run.  My back is still sore (and likely to get sorer with all the storm activities tonight).  I was hoping to do a bit more this week--especially get a long ride and run it but with the "big one" hitting now and over the next 36 hours, that will have to be on the back burner....

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Kona 2012 vid

Here is the YouTube link:

Make sure you upgrade it to HD (little gear thing at the bottom), enlarge the viewing frame--lower right, and crank it up!

Hope you like it!!!

2012 Ironman Hawaii Race Report

2012 Ironman World Championship
October 13th, 2012


Location: Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Distance: 2.4-mile swim/112-mile bike/26.2-mile run
2012 Triathlon Race Number: 11
Career Triathlon Race Number: 125
Career Ironman Number: 10
Conditions: Mid-80s, Humid, Windy, Partly Sunny.  Water: 79 degrees with a noticeable swell.

When I left here in 2010, I did so feeling very satisfied that I had checked Kona off of my life list and had done so in fine style.  I certainly had no expectations of getting back here again as it took me 11 times to qualify for Kona in 2010.  Even with the XC program, I’m not getting any younger and with no new age groups above 50 years old, my advancing years are increasingly a liability.  However at IMAZ in 2011, I was fortunate once again to qualify for the Big Dance.  This time with my bud, Sparty and so once again we headed west for the Big Island they call Kona.

Being recent empty nesters, Judy and I decided to do Kona 2012 in style.  We rented a wonderful house in the Kona Estates section near race central.  This beautiful, open ocean front residence was to be our home for three full weeks from 10/1-10-22.  Sparty and his crew rented the house next to ours commencing a week later for ten days.

With the luxury of three full weeks we had a fantastic time doing all of the touristy things (helicopter tours, kayaking, snorkeling, volcano touring, coffee tasting, etc.) and also had ample time to just kick back and enjoy island living, Hawaii-style!  Plenty of fine meals at local establishments were well balanced with just kicking back in the pool and hot tub, grilling outside and watching the waves crash at our feet and the magnificent sunsets.

I did all of the usual pre-Ironman stuff—training and equipment wise—much of it with Sparty.  I had a bit of a scare early in week one as I had a significant malfunction in the seat-post internal locking cam that rendered my bike unusable.  With an absence of replacement parts anywhere in the world, it looked like my BMC’s racing days were over.  However, some Sierra Nevada inspired creativity lead to the fabrication of serviceable parts by the team at Bike Works and at the end of the day, my equipment worked splendidly.  Judy, Sparty and I did the PATH 5k, on the 7th, and I was fortunate enough to grab my first Kona victory—albeit, with my usual very slow run speed.  Still, I’ll take it!

All-in-all, I could not imagine a more enjoyable, relaxing, and productive pre-race build-up.  Kara, Jenny and my Mom joined us as well as friends Midge and Tim Kerr and Jonathan and Casey Silver, so I had quite a sizeable contingent on hand to cheer me on for the race itself.  Race morning was soon upon us.

Race Morning

I slept a solid 5-6 ours and awoke feeling very calm.  I had my PB&J sandwiches and some of Kona’s finest Java.  Soon the rest of the gang was up and we all made our way the short distance over to the race start.  I did all of my pre-race activities (body-marking, filling my bottles, pumping tires, etc.) smoothly and efficiently and spent a very relaxing time before the start with my fellow XC competitors and with my friends and family.

This morning reminded me of the 2010 race morning.  It was pretty clear and you could already feel the heat and humidity in the air.  It was unclear what the wind would be like—it had been strangely calm for the first 10 days we were here—especially up by Hawi—but the wind seemed to have picked up in the final few days leading up to the race.  One thing was noticeably different was the swell.  I had heard the waves crashing loudly on the lava in front of our home the night before and the morning light revealed pretty significant ocean swells.  These were long-period deep-water swells (not wind-driven waves) so not technically difficult to swim, but still looked to pose a bit more of a challenge than what we faced in 2010.

Like I did back in 2010, I lined up way off to the left, away from the pier.  The cannon did not fire when expected so we were sent off with Mike Reilly yelling: “Go, go, go”.  I felt pretty good right from the start and while I certainly had my fair-share of contact, it seemed to me to be a lot less contact than I experienced in 2010.  21 minutes into my swim, Andy Potts exited as the first pro out of the water (the pros start 30 minutes before the Ag’ers).  This was three minutes slower than back in 2010—of course, I didn’t know this and was quite uncertain of how fast I was going.  I was hopeful to break 80 minutes this year but with the swell this morning, I knew that might be difficult.

I hit the halfway point of the swim, mid-way between the two turn-boats, and glanced at my watch and saw a disappointing 43 minutes.  I knew I had been through this point in 2010 in just 38:30 so I quickly surmised that I was going to have a considerably slower swim.  This played in my head for a minute or two and then I just let the negative thoughts go—I was at Kona, the water was beautiful, I felt good and was enjoying the swim—ultimately, and this is probably the only race where this is true for me—my time is very much a secondary consideration.

On the way back I did a much better job tactically and was essentially able to get a very good draft off a solid group of swimmers all the way back to the pier.  It also seemed to me that the swell was pushing us in and I began to wonder if I might swim the second half faster than the first (in 2010 I had slowed on the return leg).

Soon enough I could see the pier coming near and I glanced at my watch and saw a mid 70s number!  Hey, maybe I could have a pretty solid swim split after all!  As I did in 2010, I veered to the left as we neared the pier so I could stop and wave to my support-team.  I even did a relatively poor version of a Usain Bolt pose in the water—a reoccurring theme of mine for this year’s race.  I hit the stairs in 81:20 (vs. 80:27 in 2010) and my official time was 81:38 (this was 71 seconds slower than 2010).

I was 1482nd OA, which was at the 27.4 %-tile (of the 2039 starters).  This was slightly better than the 25.4 %-tile I posted in 2010.  IN my AG, I was 53rd (out of 91), which translated into 42.9 %-tile (this was quite a bit better than the 35.7 %-tile I posted in 2010 in my AG). 

The fastest swim in my AG was 62:06.  The swim times seemed a minute or two slower than 2010 so my swim turned out to be pretty solid (for me).  Here is how the swim splits in my AG were distributed:

Under 65:        5 %
65-70:            9
70-75:            18
75-80:            19
80-85:            15
86-90:            15
90-95:            9
95-100:          4
100+/DNF:      5

I did not know it at the time but I was exiting the swim just a bit behind the median swim time of my AG.  Given I’m not a great swimmer and this is the IM World Championships, I’ll gladly take it!

Transition One

As I ran up the stairs, and towards the transition bag racks and changing tents, I was smiling and feeling pretty good about my swim.  I sensed that it was a pretty solid effort and in any event (and by-far most importantly) was successfully completed.  I unzipped my Torque Pro and quickly found an empty seat in T1.  Even though I was in the fat part of the bell-curve for my AG I was behind the big crush for the race overall.  Still, I was surprised to find an empty seat—it was harder to do so in 2010.  I had a nice volunteer who helped me and I made sure to get all of my exposed skin caked in suntan lotion.  I also had a “shrug” that I put on to cover my arms and shoulders on the bike.  I was methodical in my T1 and as I ran out I bumped into Nace Mullen, who was a bit behind me in the swim, but had gone faster in T1.  We exited the tent together and mugged for my family.  I did another Bolt pose, grabbed my bike and bid adieu to my family. 

My official T1 this year was 7:24, which was 32 seconds slower than my 6:52 in 2010.  I was now 1:43 behind where I was at this point in 2010.

The Bike

I mount up and head out near the junction of Palani and Ali’i with the crowd noise and blasting music in my ears.  I maneuver past the Old Airport and up Makala and then after a short stretch on the Queen Ku’ahumanu Highway I plunge down Palani onto Kuakini.  This first part of the bike always seems a bit frenetic here at Kona as there are a lot of slow swimmers/fast bikers intent on “catching the bus”—more on that later.  Also, everyone is pumped up and bursting with energy from their pre-race tapers.  I try to ignore this early madness as most of the Kona folks are better than me and I have no intention of getting involved in the drafting that does seem to plague this race.  I also want to pay special attention to avoiding any accidents—I surely do not want my day to end before 9 a.m.!

I hit the turn-around at the top of Kuakini Estates with an elapsed time of 1:47:02 (vs 1:44:58 in 2010—I have dropped another 21 seconds vs. 2010 in these first 5.3 miles or so—I am now 2:04 behind 2010….this is the first indication that the SW wind flow typical here in Kona, has been established much earlier today than in 2010).  The return back to the Hot Corner is a screamer and I lit it rip.  At one point I hit a big bump unexpectedly and after composing myself, I reach back to check and see if I lost either my rear drink bottle or my half-bottle containing my spare tire stuff.  At first it all seems to be in order but a few seconds later a lady comes by and tells me that I lost a bunch of spare tire stuff when I hit the bump.  I reach back and I can tell that my tire irons are gone for sure and maybe my CO2 cartridges.  My two spare tubes are still on-board—which is very good news.  As I continue screaming down Kuakani, I mull this new development over in my head.  I had thought before the race to put one run of duct tape over the top of my spare tire equipment bottle (which I’ve done in the past) and regret that I blew this important pre-race check-list item.  I mull this for a bit and just decide that this will not be the day that I get a flat.  I ask for some cover from my dad and the other powers above and I decide to just power on.

At the bottom of Palani, I make the turn and get up out of my saddle and head up the hill.  I see my support team yelling out to me from the side of the road, mid-way up the hill—I have to admit that this is a huge boost for me—even though we are so early in the race—how lucky am I to have so many folks here helping me—I surely don’t deserve this!

Soon, I’m on the Queen K again and settled in for the long tour through the lava fields.  I check my power meter and HR and see 180-200 watts on the former and wildly swinging nonsense on the latter.  It will take a while before I start to get reliable HR numbers so all of my HR data should be taken with a grain of salt.  I attend to my nutritional tasks on a regular schedule and I feel really-really good.  I soon realize that I must have a bit of a tailwind as I feel that I am making very good time.  Here is the Garmin data from my first five 5-mile splits on the bike (speed in mph/HR in bpm/cadence rpms/Average Power in watts/Normailized Power):

0-5:   16.0/115/84/196/200
6-10: 23.8/93/83/197/207
11-15: 21.7/144/86/172/177
20-25: 19.5/134/81/168/172

I go through Waikoloa with an elapsed time of 2:58:35 vs. 2:58:49—I now am 14 seconds ahead where I was in 2010!  I feel really good at this point and note that my power and heart rate are a little below my target but this seems fine.  I decide to push just a little bit harder but to still keep it conservative.  In this race, I know enough to know that you have to not extend yourself too much on the bike.  I pass a guy who I estimate to be in his mid-60s and he comments to me that this is the easiest of the 4 IM-Hawaii bike rides that he has done.  I agree that this is much easier than 2010 but I also know that things can change pretty quickly here on the Big Island.

On the descent leading into Kawaihae, I stand up and pee for the first time.  The old saying is “Pee by Hawi” so it seems all is well in this department.  I end up peeing twice on the bike, which strikes me as the correct amount.  As I make the turn at Kawaihae, it begins to get overcast and it looks like it might rain up by Hawi.  I take this as good news—anything to cool it down a bit.  As we begin the early climb and work around the SW point and begin to travel more directly north I’m blasted my a very strong (30+ mph) headwind blowing down from Hawi.  This makes for slower going but again, I take this as a plus.  Unlike 2010, the wind is not from the NE, so we don’t have the nasty side winds I had that year and driving the bike is no big deal at all this year.  I’m very psyched by this despite the slow going with the climb and wind.  The race leaders come by the other way but I don’t see the race helicopter like I did in 2010.  Here’s how my splits looked out through 50 miles:

26-30: 22.9/140/80/169/173
30-35: 20.4/116/81/170/173
36-40: 15.1/124/78/183/187
41-45: 18.5/133/79/178/187
46-50: 18.1/143/83/171/177

Soon I’m riding into Hawi.  I’m in much better shape this year than 2010 at this point.  I feel better and I’m not as mentally fried as the absence of side winds made this year’s climb to Hawi much, much easier from a bike safety point-of-view.  I hit the Hawi turnaround at 4:46:58 vs. 4:52:48 in 2010—I’m now almost 6 minutes faster at this point and close to 8 minutes faster on the bike.  I begin to believe that I can go sub 6 hours on the bike.

As I ride by special needs I see a fine gentlemen holding my bag out and I easily grab it while still rolling.  As I ride out of town, I grab my baggie of 9 boiled and salted mini Yukon potatoes out of my special needs bag and stash them in my tri-top near my open zipper.  I grab one and eat it and it is amazing!!!!  I first had these tasty tots during RAMROD this year and I can’t believe how good it tastes to get some much needed carbos that aren’t sweet!  The texture and the saltiness are also very much appreciated.  I take great delight in eating all of them over the next 20 miles or so.

In 2010, the descent from Hawi was terrifying.  I sat up and used my brakes a lot as the howling side winds made controlling the bike very sketchy.  This year it’s mostly a tailwind and this leads to an extremely fast descent—I hit 37.4 mph on this section.  It starts to rain a bit but I never get more than just a few drops—after the race I learn that those behind me got quite a bit more of a soaking.

Soon I’m back at the harbor in Kawaihae and I make the right turn onto the Queen K.  Here, at mile 80 or so, the party grinds to a halt.  I’m somewhat surprised to turn into very hard headwinds—I’m guessing well above 20 mph here.  This combined with the climbs between 80 and 85 miles puts a damper on my here-to-for high-flying spirits.  I had headwinds on the way back in 2010 as well, but today these winds are a whole lot worse.  If they continue unabated all the way back to Kailua then my bike split is really going to suffer.  Here are the next 25 miles of bike splits:

51-55: 15.9/134/84/186/189
55-60: 12.1/136/79/185/188
61-65: 29.4/104/84/149/149
66-70: 21.5/124/84/177/184
70-75: 19.4/136/80/174/178

The winds continue to howl and by the time I hit Waikoloa again it’s pretty obvious to me that the winds are going to be a real problem all the way back—they are fierce.  The sun is back out and I’m climbing the hills at 6-10 mph.  On some of the descents, I have to keep it in my small chain ring.  At one point on a 4% downgrade, I stop pedaling for a second or five to see what would happen and I watch my speed quickly bleed off.  The wind is so strong that even on a fairly significant downhill my bike would grind to a stop without continued pedaling!  At this stage in the race, this is all very tough to take.  However, before the race, I had mentally prepared myself for something like this and I think I kept a pretty positive attitude for the most part.  I did seem to be passing a few more folks here and there. 

My elapsed time through Waikoloa this year was 6:17:42 vs. 6:26:40 in 2010.  I had gained almost 9 minutes on 2010 at this point although it was clear that I was losing time now and would continue to do so all the way until the end of the bike.  Here were my splits between 75 and 100 miles:

75-80: 16.6/133/77/176/182
80-85: 18.4/147/79/169/173
86-90: 15.9/147/78/167/171
90-95: 13.2/147/76/172/174
95-100: 13.1/136/78/162/165

At this point, with my last 10 miles barely being covered in 13 mph, I’ve really had just about enough.  I say out loud that I need this ride to be over soon.  I run the math and conclude that I’ll be hard pressed to beat my bike split from last year.  This is a bit disappointing given my earlier success on the ride, but I try to put a positive spin on things and decide to try to push harder the last 12 miles:

100-105: 15.4/154/78/160/163
105-110: 18.0/154/81/174/177
110-112: 19.6/157/82/171/173

I finally roll back into the transition area—very pleased and more than willing to exchange my bike for my running shoes.  Over the last 22 miles or so I lose almost 11 minutes vs. 2010, which is pretty astounding.  My final bike split is 6:22:56 vs. 6:21:01 in 2010.  I’m now 3:38 in total behind 2010.  (My Garmin has the bike split at 6:21:57 and the distance was measured as 112.08 miles).  I record 4,478 feet of climbing and my caloric burn on the bike was estimated at 2,339 calories.  The average temperature recorded by my computer was 85 degrees with a max of 95 degrees.  My average speed was 17.6 mph.  My average power in 2010 was 170 watts, but was 174 watts this year (Normalized Power was 180 watts).  My cadence this year was a healthy 80-rpm—much better than the 73 I recorded in 2010.  My HR was 138 both years but as I mentioned, I think the 2012 data is a bit suspect.  Competitively, I have the 54th fastest bike split in my AG.  At 41.8 %-tile, this is almost identical to my swim.  In 2010, I was only at the 21.7 %-tile, so despite my slower split, I was much more competitive this year. 

I’ll have to take a more detailed look at the numbers but my guess is that the bike was 6-12 minutes slower this year than it was in 2010, so on balance, I feel pretty good about my bike!  Here is the distribution of bike times in my AG (the fastest was 5:16:37):

5:15-5:30:   8%
5:30-5:45:  16
5:45-6:00:  14
6:00-6:15:  13
6:15-6:30:  14
6:30-6:45:  10
6:45-7:00:   8
7:00-7:15:   9
7:15-7:30:   2
7:30+/DNF:  8

One last comment on the bike.  There were reports of wide-spread drafting on the bike this year.  Back where I was, I really didn’t see any but up towards the front—where people were swimming 60-70 minutes or so, apparently is was an issue.  “Getting on the bus” is appears to be a real phenomenon.  Some 243 penalties are handed out, which is mind-boggling—probably more than 10% of the field is affected.  I’ve wondered why my bike splits are worse than my swim splits (percentage wise) here at Kona and this may explain some of it.  At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter to me—other people drafting really is of no concern to me—I’m just doing my thing and enjoying being a part of this great race!

Transition Two

All things considered, I feel pretty good as I pass my bike off to a volunteer.  I take my shoes off and jog slowly around the transition zone.  I see Jen across the pier and wave to her.  Soon, I see Kara and Midge and they give me a nice cheer.  As I come around the transition area my Mom and Judy are there as well.

I grab my T2 bag and head into transition.  Not surprisingly, T2 is far less crowded than T1 was.  I sit down and enjoy the support of two transition volunteers.  I’m methodical but reasonably efficient.  I thank my helpers and head outside again and once again hear the cheers of my team—it’s a real boost to have folks out cheering for you—it definitely helps.

I complete my T2 in 7:44, which is a bit better than the 8:28 I recorded in 2010.  My total elapsed time now stands at 7:59:42, which is 2:54 behind where I was in 2010.  I’m aware of this and quickly reassess my goals for the run.  Coming into the race, I was hopeful of going sub 13 hours.  To do so, I figured I needed to go sub 6 on the bike and to leave T2 around 7:30-7:40.  As it stands, I’ll need to go sub 5 hours on the run to break 13 hours.  I know this is possible, but unlikely—especially given the punishment I just endured on the bike.  I decide to stick to my run strategy (which I’ll describe momentarily) and if I see that a sub 5 marathon is unlikely, then I’ll just shoot to beat my 2010 time (13:49:17).

The Run

As I run out of T2 I see Jonathan and Casey who have been involved in passing out sponges to people leaving T2 for the last couple of hours.  Casey asks me how I feel and I reply: “Good enough to get this done”.  I slap fives and I’m on my way.  I run up the short little hill to the bottom of Palani and I note that I do indeed feel pretty good-at least given the context.

My run strategy is to run to the next Aid Station (which are about 1 mile apart), walk through the Aid Station and make sure I hydrate, eat and pour water over my head and put ice in my hat (and other places).  Then, when I’m done, I’ll look at my watch and walk exactly 1 minute more.  Then repeat as long as I can.  I hopeful I can do 11-12 minute miles this way (11 min/mi= 4:48 and 12 min/mi=5:14).  This is what I do right from the start.

I feel pretty good as I wend my way over to Ali’i and I head south out towards “The Pit”.  I’m able to keep my HR in the low 140s, which I think is critical for me here in Hawaii—in 2010 my HR bloomed out of control around mile 6-7, which forced me to walk for quite a while.  I was hoping to avoid that fate this year.

Around 3 miles into the run my race almost ended.  I had just left an Aid Station and I was chatting to a guy to my left when I heard a frantic: “Stay outside the white line!”  I looked down and I was outside the white line but the fellow to my left was about 2-3 feet away—well inside the white line.  I had no chance to process any of this (indeed, I’m not really sure what is inside vs. outside the white line) when a wheel chair athlete blazed between us at a very high rate of speed (we were on a downhill section).  When he passed I was looking at my feet and the white line and his right most wheel literally rubbed the outside of my left foot.

It was over in a fraction of a second and the wheel chair guy sped away waving at us.  The other guy next to me looked at me and we both shook our heads.  If I had been a few inches to my left I’m sure I would have had a broken leg or worse….Whew!  It always amazes me when things like this happen in an Ironman, how quickly you let the incident go and refocus on the (challenging) task at hand—which is what I did.

I ran steadily out to the turnaround just past five miles—here is what my first 5 miles looked like (time/HR):

1.    9:44/144
2.    11:20/144
3.    12:01/140
4.    11:50/142
5.    11:42/143

At this point, I had lost time every mile compared to 2010 when I was just running.  I this point I was 4:07 behind 2010 on the run and over 7 minutes behind 2010 in total elapsed time.  However, my HR was quite a bit lower and I felt completely in control.  In fact, for each of the next ten miles I was going to be faster this year than 2010.

As I ran the miles back to the Hot Corner I began to look for Sparty.  I was concerned about him as I had not seen him since before the race.  I figured I’d get to the Hot Corner sometime around 10 hours into the race and if I didn’t see him before then I was worried that he might not make the 10:30 bike cut-off.  However, just past Lava Java about 9 or so miles into my run (about a mile into his) I saw him and I told him that he was “golden” and to “just execute your run plan”.  I took worrying about Sparty off the list as he is a savvy and experienced triathlete and I was sure he would have plenty of time to spare versus the 17-hour cut-off.

Shortly before the bottom of Palani Hill, Nace Mullen from New Jersey caught me and we walked and ran together as we went past the Hot Corner and looked up Palani.  Here were my next five one-mile splits:

6.    11:10/146
7.    12:41/138
8.    11:31/145
9.    11:05/145
10.   11:51/144

During this five mile segment my race strategy began to pay dividends as I picked up 12:23 vs. 2010 and I was now 8:16 ahead of 2010 on the run and was 5+ minutes ahead of where I was in 2010 overall.  Importantly, my margin of improvement was growing with each passing mile and I still felt great—like I could keep this up for quite a bit longer.

Nace trys to get me to run up Palani but I’ll have none of it as I’m not even looking forward to walking up it!  Fortunately, my support team is there to welcome me and as I walk a bit with Judy, Jen and Kara; Nace heads off on his way.  I whip out another “Bolt” and tell everyone that I feel really good.  Jen and Kara continue walking with me up onto the Queen K, but this short climb up Palani really kicks my butt!  It seems like someone threw the power switch to “off”.  I tell the girls that I need to walk a bit longer.  Jen peels off and Midge joins Kara and I.  I try to get back on my program and the three of us run for a mile or so—quite slowly.  Midge and Kara bid adieu and I’m on my own for pretty much the duration.  It feels quite warm up on the Queen K even as I watch the sun plunging into the Pacific to my left.  I’m not feeling that great now.  I can’t seem to get much down my throat—I gag when I try to swallow the Electrolyte tablets.  My stomach feels fine but for some reason, my throat is quite cranky about all the stuff I’ve been pouring down it all day.  (Even when I eventually get my boiled potatoes at mile 17 I’m not able to swallow them).  I walk more than run now and keep looking up the road for the turn to the Energy Lab.  I remember from 2010 that these 5 miles out to the Lab can be quite maddening.  I’m still going faster than 2010 but by mile 15 the delta is shrinking quickly.  Here are my next five splits:

11:  16:17/131
12:  13:55/130
13:  14:42/123
14:  15:33/117
15:  15:14/115

I manage to put another 11:25 on 2010 and at this point I am now 19:41 ahead of my pace in 2010—unfortunately, my body does not like the current state of affairs!

The sun is down and it’s quite dark now.  I finally reach the turnoff to the Energy Lab and head down towards the beach.  I run the math and know I’ll need to average around 14 minutes/mile or so to beat my 2010 time.  It’s dark (and my eyes are getting pretty bad) and I have trouble reading my Garmin but it seems to me that even hitting 14 min/mile is a challenge.  I remember that I averaged mid 11s in 2010 over the last nine miles—that appears unlikely this time around.  Mark Moses catches me around 16 or so and we walk/jog/chat for a while—I usually catch Mark around 100 miles or so on the but apparently I passed him up by Hawi this year, although neither of us was aware of it at the time.  He encourages me to run with him but I decline as I’m struggling to keep things even-keeled at this point—in fact, I feel a little light-headed. 

I make the turnaround at the bottom of the Lab and this lifts my spirits.  But not my pace, as I struggle even up the modest incline leading back to the Queen K.  Here are my next five splits:

16:  15:05/116
17:  13:53/119
18:  14:50/117
19:  15:59/116
20:  14:19/130

Up on the Queen K I keep mentally urging myself to run more and faster as at this point I really want to go faster than 2010.  I want to stay at or slightly below 14 min/mile and I expect that I’ll be able to pick it up over the last mile with the crowd support.

Somewhere around 22 miles or so, Sparty passes me coming the other way, heading out to the Lab.  He seems and good spirits and well on his way to a 16-hour effort.  I wish him well.  Even though I’m slow, I feel pretty good now.  My mood is very upbeat and I take care to soak everything in—there is a good chance I won’t be back here for a long time, if ever.  I thank the volunteers and keep plugging along.  Pretty soon I’m at the top of Palani.  My next five splits:

21:  13:25/151
22:  12:08/136
23:  13:56/126
24:  13:23/126
25:  13:53/127

I make the turn and head down the hill—I’m running quite a bit faster now (9:30 pace over the final 1.2 miles).  As expected, some of my support team is at the bottom and their cheers lift me even higher.  I know Kara and my Mom are waiting to greet me just past the finish line.  There is no one near me—in front or behind so I know I’ll have the final run to the finish line to myself.  I also know, given how fast (and easily) I’m now running that I will easily beat my time from 2010.

I make the turn on Ali’I and I slap fives with at least a 100 people.  I’m a little choked up but not as much as 2010.  I look around and soak everything in—I think I’m more aware of everything than back in 2010.  Finally, I make the final bend and there it is, the prettiest sight in all of triathlon.  I run up the ramp and at the finish line give a “What’s Up?” shrug and then once again (and for the last time) my Usain Bolt pose.  I laugh and run down the ramp and am hugged by Kara and my Mom.  Kara puts the lei around me and I soon see and go over and hug the rest of my team.  My final run time is 5:43:17, which is about 13:06/mile.  I have the 74th best run in my AG (19.8 %-tile).  This was a little more than 9 minutes better than in 2010 and my overall time of 13:42:59 is 6:18 better than 2010.  I finish 65th in my AG (29.7 %-tile) and 1615th OA (20.8 %-tile).  This is modestly better than the 17.8 %-tile level I was at in 2010.

I’m escorted out of the finish area (which by the way is just rocking) and collect myself and my finisher’s medal and t-shirt.  We take pictures and talk for a while and then Casey and Jon make a dash for the airport to catch their plane.  It was really awesome to have them along for the ride this year.  We head up to the King Kam and I grab a shower and change of clothes.  We all lay down for about 45 minutes or so and then we rouse ourselves to head back down to the finisher area.

We get into the stands behind the finish line and wait for Sparty to finish.  About 10 minutes before 16 he fulfills his Kona dream as his whole family is there to meet him.  We cheer for him and I slap him 5 as he goes by—on his way to the med tent.  He did a great job today and managed his race really well!

We decide to wait for the last finisher and are rewarded with one amazing finish after another.  The last lady—over 75 years old, just finishes about 20 seconds before 17 hours.  Then it’s off to our nearby house where I actually manage to drink a full beer (a first for me after an IM!).  Then it’s time to rest, which I do quite easily!

With the help and support of my friends and family, as well as the 2000 other competitors and 5000 volunteers I’ve finished my 2nd Hawaii Ironman and my 10th full IM in my career.  I realize how truly blessed I am to have been able to experience this.  I hope to do more in the future (including IMAZ just five weeks later) and I’d surely like to get back to Kona, but at this point, it’s all just icing on a very sweet cake!

Thanks for reading!!!!