Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Austin 70.3 Dave's Race Report

I asked David Turner to share his report of the Half Ironman in Austin, TX last weekend.  He gives a nice, detailed outline of a race that summarizes the day perfectly.  The race is point to point with two transitions but only one mile from one another.  The start is in Walter E. Long Lake with a counter clockwise trapezoid swim.  Then,  exit to T1 and ride a single loop 56 miles around the Austin countryside.  Arrive at T2 near the Luedeke arena and start a three-loop run that ends indoors in the arena itself.  
David Turner and Andy Potts


I woke up at 4:30 to get all my stuff out to the car and get some breakfast in me.   Quinoa, flax cereal and almond milk, as usual.  It was 45 degrees – luckily I had brought some cold weather clothes for the morning – toque, sweatshirt and sweatpants and a Nike fleece running shirt.  It kept me pretty warm but I could have used some gloves.   It didn’t get light until 7:20 and the first wave started at 7:30 so we were in the dark most of the time.  T1 had decent lighting but I should have brought my headlamp.  Not enough pumps in the Transition area either – I had to get in line and wait a while.  Still had plenty of time to get it done.   A lot of stickers on the ground so you had to carry your bike around the transition area to avoid a flat later on.


My wave started at 7:45.  Swim was wetsuit legal with the water temp at about 71 degrees – amazingly the water was warmer than being on shore!  We got in right before and everyone was commenting on how great it felt.  The gun went off and the feeding frenzy began.  I got kicked in the goggles once pretty hard.  No damage, though.  One guy was on my tail for a while and I kicked him right in the head and thought I had cut my foot.  I kept a strong rhythm, though and got into a good groove.  Sighted every 5th stroke, which was good and kept me straight.  Left the water with a PB of 42:13 so I was very happy.  Wetsuit strippers rule!  Glad they had them.  T1 time was 7:28 – a little long but with all the extra gear it makes sense.  Better than ‘56 miles of miserable’ on the bike….


Fortunately I had brought along my winter riding jersey, just in case!  I chose not to wear anything under my wetsuit so I could be as dry as possible for the bike.  I threw on my tri-jersey and then put the bike jersey over top of it.  Thanks to Andy Potts suggestion, I had grabbed some Mechanics Gloves at Sears to keep my hands warm.  Wool socks also, which helped, but two covers would have been better.
The Bike route reminded me of Calgary.  Meandering hills – rollers throughout.  The only difference was the road conditions – they were bad!  Lots of cracks, indentations, etc. from the drought conditions.  It felt like Bush Highway most of the way.  I tried to fuel to my plan -  ½ a Bonk Breaker every half hour and top it off with Nuun flavored water.  It worked well during the bike – but I would really tell during the run.  Finished with a 3:07:10 on the bike. – not my best but it felt right.  After all, I was really worried about the run (see my previous report for IM 70.3 Boulder).   T2 time was 8:55 which was longer than I anticipated but that was because I had to wait for the port-a-jon.


I started the run feeling good.  Each loop was about 4.3 miles and there were lots of spectators and people with dogs, etc. that helped motivate me forward.  With three loops, it made for a lot of aid stations and a lot of people around you – a little crowded for one part as you had two lanes of runners flow against one another as well as part of the cycling route on the same road!  Again, the road conditions were uneven, rocky and there were a couple of parts with potholes, sand and even grass.  Almost needed trail shoes!  Lap one was good, lap two was OK and lap three was hard (no surprise).  At this point, the colder weather was GREAT!  A cool breeze kept us from overheating and that made a big difference for me.  At mile 12, though, my legs started to cramp.  First time that has ever happened.  I walked for a while and then muscled on to the finish.  2:14:34.  A PB for the ½ marathon in an Ironman 70.3 race.


Total race time 6:20:20, which is were I always seem to end up.  Very happy with the time and felt somewhat redeemed from the Boulder race.  I ended up 93 out of 194 in my age group and 1074 out of 2500 or so participants overall.

After finishing, I was VERY light headed and my cramps up and down both legs began to get bad.  I got some salty BBQ beef in me and some chips to counteract them but I had to sit for a long time and go short distances due to being as light headed as I was.  Probably the worst I felt after a race ever….  Took me a few hours to recoup and I was good as new for Dinner at Whole Foods that night.


I give this race a solid ‘B’ Grade.  It was a well organized race in a neat city.  Probably my favorite swim of all – warm and nice.  Nothing scenic about any part of the race, though.  Boulder, Calgary and Boise are all prettier overall courses.  Volunteers were good but not great. This is just a good, solid race.  I had a great time and I am really glad I did it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Different Kind of Race

The Ultra Marathon.  The Tough Mudder.  The end-all-be-all Ironman triathlon.  We've done a pretty good job developing the longest, most difficult, most extreme physical challenges that have ever been organized on the earth.  There's cycling races, marathons, swiming events all designed to crush our limits and create new ones.  As endurance athletes, we accept these dares, we train, we prepare and we conquer.  And afterwards we give ourselves a big pat on the back for a job well done.  We walk tall with a medal around our neck and flash that tattoo on our calf which documents bragging rights for the rest of our lives. 

But there are other races going on out there.  The race for time with family when someone is suffering a fatal disease.  The challenge of dealing with a debilitating divorce.  The stress of children or friends or family who are experiencing loss or depression.  And the endurance test of watching a parent's memory, and their recognition of you, slip away forever. 

Life is our true test, our journey, our race.  There are times when we are anxious, treading furiously  hoping above all things that we can keep our head above water.  Exhaustion, sadness, fatigue are all parts of our story.  But so are moments of joy, happiness, and elation.  For all the work we put into THIS race, there is no medal, no podium, no victory t-shirt. 

Which is why we should enjoy the races we CHOOSE to enter.  Chip time and clock time don't need to define who we are. 
I am a RUNNER. 
I am a SWIMMER. 
I am a CYCLIST. 
There may be asteriks next to these definitions.  *Boston Qualifier.  *Kona Participant.  *LOTOJA podium finisher.  *Leadville BIG buckle. 

But there are no asteriks next to: 
Son of an Alzheimer's Dad
Wife of a Husband with Brain Cancer
Dealing with Depression
Parent dealing with a child's depression

For these friends and family members, your journey makes me most proud.  And you deserve the medal.  Keep on keepin' on.  Your race may never be over. 

But you are the true winners in my book. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Secret Race --- Amazing!

It's been quite a while since I was so wrapped up in a book that I wanted to stay in bed, turn on the reading light and spend hours at a time devouring every word of a well written story.  Wow!  Daniel Coyle you know how to write!  And Tyler, you know how to spill the beans.

Like an undercover agent, Hamilton describes the tainted blood, sweat and tears surrounding his years in The Tour de France.  The cast of characters include some of the biggest names in the cycling world including the Big Dog, Lance Armstrong.  Hamilton guiltily admits doping in any way that would keep him boosted just enough to avoid suspicion come drug testing time.  The lengths he would go to for EPO, testosterone and intravenous blood collection are shocking.  

If you're a fan of cycling at all, this book is one I would HIGHLY recommend.  And if you're not a cyclist, the story line will still hold your interest, and concludes with a moral that the truth will set you free.  

Thank you Tyler for telling your story.  The cat is out of the bag now.  As for Lance, you were the best of the best -- especially when it came to doping.  But you instilled a love of cycling in me, and I'll always be grateful for that.  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Read This Twice -- It Makes A Lot Of Sense

Here's some great advice from Olympic Gold Medalist Misty Hyman.  Hyman is a fellow coach at MAC Masters.  She's got the knowledge and the expertise to help any swimmer improve their stroke.  She knows the secret to any great swim is the kick...

In my experience, most pullers have trouble getting propulsion from the upward motion of the kick, known as the upkick. The upkick is in either flutter kick or butterfly kick when your legs come up behind your body in a straight position. A lot of people think of this motion as resetting the leg for the next downkick which is when the knee bends and whips the foot towards the front of your body and towards the bottom of the pool. The mistake many make is that they rest on the upkick and work too hard on the downkick. This puts most of the stress of the kick on the quadriceps which are large muscles in the thighs that require a lot of oxygen and can tire quickly.

A more balanced kick can be much more sustainable and effective. The key to a more balanced kick is twofold; being able to engage your glutes (your rear end muscles) and hamstrings (muscles in the back of your thighs) and opening up the hip flexors (muscles in the front of your hip). If you are lifting your leg up behind you while it is straight, you must use the muscles in your hamstrings and your glutes. A lot of us forget how to use those muscles or are just so tight in our hips that we can’t.

You can’t engage your glutes in an extended position if your hip flexors are too tight. Your hip flexors are a group of muscles located in the front of your hip where your upper thigh meets your lower abdomen.  There are a number of different ways to stretch your hip flexors. My favorite is a
kneeling lunge as shown to the right. It is important to keep your  lower abs tight to support your lower back. Lean forward in the position until you feel the stretch in the front of your hip. If your front knee goes over your front toes step the front foot forward more. Practice contracting your glutes while in this stretch. To increase the intensity of the stretch resist your knee into the ground as if you are trying to
pull the knee towards the front foot. I recommend resisting the knee for five deep breaths then
relaxing deeper into the stretch for three breaths. You can alternate this stretch with a hamstring stretch by simply straightening the front leg and moving the hips back over the bent knee. To increase the intensity of this stretch keep the back straight and lean forward over your front leg. Perhaps even bring
your hands to the ground. Keep your front toes pointed towards the sky. Hold this position for five deep breaths. Then repeat the entire routine three times in a row. Do this at least three times
per week.

Stretching is an important part of any swimming routine. Gold Medalists Jason Lezak and Dara Torres consider stretching an indispensable part of their dryland regimen. Jason stretches 3 times per day, and Dara stretches over an hour per day! Stretching for just 15-20 minutes each day can significantly improve your swimming especially your kick. Ask your coach for other great swimming stretches that you can do!

It is often difficult to engage new muscles when we are in the pool, because we naturally revert back to the habits we have had since we were very young. It can be helpful to simulate a proper kick motion out of the water in order to change our technique in the water. This is one of my favorite dryland exercises. You will need a medium sized inflatable exercise ball, often called a physio ball. Place your lower abdomen on top of the ball with your hands on the ground right under your shoulders. It is similar to a push up position, except the ball is under your lower stomach and hips. Extend your legs straight out behind you. Then do  a flutter kick motion in the air. Make sure that the leg that is going down towards the ground is bending to create a whip motion as you extend your toe towards the ground.

When your leg comes back up, make sure that it remains straight until it reaches its highest point which
should be slightly above your hip and body. Remember the self-talk, “Whip (bend the knee) down, lift up straight.” Alternate this motion with your legs as if you were kicking in mid-air. Be sure to keep your head in a neutral position in a straight line with your body. Keep your abdominal and back muscles engaged throughout this exercise to avoid injury. Balancing on the ball is part of the challenge of the exercise. At first the coordination is a challenge, but with practice it will become more natural.
Do this exercise for :30 seconds at a time then rest. Start with one set of :30 seconds the first time. When you are ready, build up to two sets of :30 seconds and then eventually three sets of :30 seconds. Do this exercise at least three times per week for 4-6 weeks. When this becomes moderately easy you can try the same exercise, but with your legs together for butterfly kick.


STRETCH!  Go to yoga on a regular basis or get stretched from a certified stretch therapist.
STRENGTHEN!  CrossFit helps strengthen the glutes, the hamstrings and the overall core.

You can kill two birds with one stone at Build Up Crossfit in Mesa.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Behind The Scenes...IMAZ 2012

I've got a new job.  A bit overwhelming and a bit under prepared but none the less, I'm now an official employee at:

Ironman Arizona is November 18th and from now until then, I'll be eating, drinking and sleeping Ironman.  We've got big things to do: logistics, volunteer assigning, doling out foundation monies, and making this event run like clockwork come race day.

A word about those foundation monies.  Ironman does a fabulous job of giving back to the community.  If you scratch their back, they'll scratch yours.  Charitable organizations with non-profit status can bring volunteers to the race in November, and in return, receive a sizable check for their charity as thanks for their services.  It's a beautiful thing.  To find out more just leave a message on my blog and I will get you all the information.

For now, I'm answering emails, checking on numbers and ticking off to-do lists.  Just a hint for anyone participating in or volunteering at an event as big as Ironman --  READ the information guides.  Most questions about the course are already answered in the athlete manuals.  Take the time to peruse these before any event.  There is a reason they were compiled for over 2000 athletes and 4000 volunteers.

Soap box done for the day.

Look for me if you're coming to Ironman.  I'm the tall one, probably sleep deprived, but happy to be surrounded by amazing athletes, selfless volunteers and thousands of cheering fans.  See you in T-minus 45 days!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Que lindo es sonar despierto.
How lovely it is to dream while you are awake.

Dreams That Have Come True