Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Goals for Rev 3

So here it is: my goal is to cross the finish line by 12:04:59 AM which is the cutoff for the race, 17 hours after we get in the water. Every second before that I'll consider a blessing, as it's one second less I'll be out on the road.

But let's for a second say the day goes perfectly. For just the purpose of this blog, let's say the temperature maxes out the average high for that day, 75 degrees. Let's say the wind is from the south, meaning the water is calm, and the wind never exceeds a provides a lightly cooling breeze. Let's say I sleep really well the night before, and wake up with everything going perfectly smoothly leading up to the start. If all that happens, let me tell you what I think my perfect race would be like. 

The Swim: This one is easy to say. My perfect swim for 2.4 miles would be 1:50. That's with time to eat a GU every half mile, and a quick stop to sight at each turn.

T1: 10 minutes. I'm going to need a few minutes to recover from the swim, and then to eat and drink, and get ready for the bike. This is the one area where I don't think I'll be any faster than this, but I won't be much slower

The Bike: My perfect ride for this right now is 7:00. There's not a ton of climbing, and we won't have all the stops we have on all our training rides slowing us down. On a windless day with strong legs, I can do this ride at 16 MPH and push the average the last 10 miles to save time for the run.

T2: 10 minutes, again. I'm going to use this time to completely change my clothes, get all sorts of anti-chafe on, and get ready for a long walk.

The Run: Well, It's mostly going to be a walk, but the perfect walk is me averaging just better than 15 minute miles for the marathon. If I can do 6:20 for the marathon, It's a great time for me.

Maybe these times don't seem all that fast to anyone else, but to me, these are my perfect times right now. 15:30 would be a time that I can hope for and shoot for, but my real goals are to finish, enjoy my day, be healthy, and get to spend some time with friends and family when it's all over.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene brought us wind, rain, and taper

It's amazing to me that time has flown by the way that it has. A little over a year ago (August 26, 2010), and just a few days off the success of Timberman, I decided I wanted to do an Ironman distance race. Here we are now, a year and 2 days later, and we're just 2 weeks from Rev 3 Cedar Point. In fact, as I write this around 11 PM on Sunday night, I should be just crossing the finish line 2 weeks from right now. I can't believe how much time has gone by.

But here we are with only the taper between us and the race. Are we as prepared as we absolutely could be? Nope. I've cringed a couple times this week thinking back at some poor choices (food I had partaken of and exercise I should have but didn't) I've made along the way. But we're here now, and there's nothing to do but look forward to the race and the opportunity to have one full long day to complete this part of the journey.

And for each of those poor choices, there were days where I did everything right, where I left it all out on the bike, in the pool, or on the running trail. The long rides, the extra hills on the bike, all those miles in the water without the wetsuit, and the Wild Fish swim race. I haven't walked a hill on the bike in months, and my swim is stronger than ever. Yes, my run still sucks, but like the song says; two out of three ain't bad.

We had a final 100 mile ride planned for Saturday, and we did our damnedest to make it work, but the weather and the gym just wouldn't cooperate. After 30 miles outdoors, the weather turned bad in a hurry so went looking for indoor bikes, and sadly we simply couldnt find a place to finish the race. No place would take us on just a day pass. So, while we wound up with one less long ride than we hoped, Rach and I talked through and we've decided we're ready.

Or, at least I have. I can honestly tell you I'm confident I'll finish the race. Sure, I'll be slow, and yes, I'll be somewhere after 10 PM finishing. But I'll cross that line before midnight. Rachelle on the other hand, is feeling less than confident. It comes down to the bike for her. She's plenty fast to do the race under the cutoff, but she's nervous because we've never ridden 112 miles straight. I've explained we've done most of the distance all in a row, and we've done it with a harder ride than what we'll have at Cedar Point, but she's still feeling less than confident. If you follower her twitter or read her blog, she could use a little support.

These next two weeks while less busy with workouts will be plenty busy with moving, unpacking, and then heading up to Ohio for the race. We'll still get plenty of workouts with the moving and the taper training. It should be a great couple weeks leading up to a fantastic race. Plus, my last day with my current company is Friday. I've really enjoyed these last two years working there, but with the move it just isn't a good fit to stay there going forward.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Go long then hunker down

With our last few weeks of hard rides now almost behind us, I can't remember the last time we had a weekend without rain impacting our training somehow. Thankfully we've found or made time enough to get it done, and we're going to have to do the same this weekend. With rain in the forecast even before we had Irene bearing down on us, we're going to have to be flexible in order to get the hours in this weekend for those last long rides and swims. I'm calling the YMCA to see what they're day passes run if we wake up to a scary forecast on Saturday. Right now they're saying some showers on Saturday but Irene won't really impact us until late Saturday night.

We're in the lovely Travelodge for one last week, where they've come to know us so well that when I came down to tell the manager that we'd prepaid for another week online, he said, "I already added put it in the system and you're checked into the same room again". Not the highest quality accommodations, but the service hasn't been too bad. I'm very excited for next Friday night when we'll be staying somewhere other than the Travelodge.

I also want to again thank everyone their tremendous generosity. We now only have $165 dollars left to raise before the race. With 2 weeks left still, it shouldn't be a problem to get that last 10% done. Thanks again to all of my fantastic family and friends for helping with this massive effort. I try to give to you more than I get from you but I'm not sure this is something I'll ever be able to repay. Thank you all so very very much for this opportunity; I just hope on race day I can make it all worth while for you as you have for me.

Preparations are coming along nicely for the move. We've got cable folks coming out to survey the house to make sure they can get us internet, we're all set for having the movers come help us load the truck, and once we get there on 9/4, Rachelle's dad will be meeting us to help unload the truck. We have to pay for the truck for 5 days regardless of how long we actually need it. Getting it done and turned in early certainly wouldn't hurt though.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wait, so now I have to worry about hurricanes?

Rachelle and I knew that moving to the Carolina would mean a lot of changes, including that fact that we're moving into an area far more likely to have to deal with hurricanes. But now we're hearing that the weather from Hurricane Irene will likely impact both our new place AND impact us here in Boston. I wouldn't expect damage here in Boston, but the weather reports are saying it could cause significant problems for our long ride. Worst case scenario, we're going to find a gym to go to on Saturday morning, and ride a stationary bike for long hours until we've done our 100 miles. Whether it's indoors or outdoors, this ride WILL happen. I just really hope it's outside.

This is our new place, hopefully Irene leaves it alone
The other big news is that I have awesome, awesome friends and readers. Well, actually that's not big news, I've known it for a long time. But, when I mentioned yesterday that I still had $500 left towards my fundraising goal for Rev3 with only 2 1/2 weeks left. In just one day, we collected $235 towards the goal, so I only have $265 remaining to pay off. Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed so far, I really appreciate it a lot, and I know the funds are going to do some young adults dealing with cancer a lot of good. I'm hopeful I can still fund raise this amount before Rev3, as things are going to be tight financially with the move and all the travel around the race.

We got in a 1/2 mile swim yesterday, where with some horrible sighting, I managed 26 minutes. Im still not fast, but even on bad sighting days I can still do a 52 minute mile in cool water without a wetsuit. Tonight, I had planned a longer workout, but the team has a social tonight, and it will be our last chance for a while to see many of them so we're going to go to that. They picked a good place that gives us a chance to see another part of Boston one last time.

Finally, with taper coming way too quickly (it starts Monday!), I really want to make sure I'm not going to get out of control on my eatting. I made the decision to cut out all fried foods on Sunday after eating a McDonalds breakfast sandwich and really just feeling like crap all day after. I'm now almost 4 days grease free, and further, I have eaten fruits and/or vegetables with every meal (save one) since. My goal is to continue this through my taper period, and then following the post race feast, go right back to it.

I still don't have a scale to check my weight progress with, but I've gotten to the point where I'm wearing my belt in the smallest hole, one I had to add myself a few weeks ago.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Big News, a Big Week, and I could use some BIG help!

Ok, so I can finally share my big news with you. Rachelle and I are moving to North Carolina. And we're doing it soon; We'll be driving away from Boston on September 3rd headed to our new domicile in the area of Buie's Creek, North Carolina. Rachelle will start her job with Campbell University where she'll be working with a couple of their sports teams this year. I'll continue working for my current employer for a short time remotely with my company while I look for new employment and cover the transition period.

While this move is long awaiting, and we'll finally be moving out of the hotel; it does present some interesting challenges. We'll be moving to North Carolina the week before we Rev3 Cedar Point. It comes at a good time in training, in that it falls dead smack in the center of our taper period, so we'll get some work in, but it won't impact any of our long efforts. We're hoping to stop in Washington, DC for the night on the trip down, as I've never been there and would like to see a couple of the landmarks if we have time.

We believe we've found a really nice place to live, very close to Rachelle's work, and within a short drive to a lot of potential employers for myself. There's a large technical Market in and near Raleigh, so I know I can find something, and I have some irons in the fire already.

Our big week is of course this week with our final week of training, our last long bike rides, runs, and swims. I had a major headache Monday night which limited me, but I got it a good run/walk last night. The weather might be a bit cantankerous this weekend, so we're playing it by ear for our last very long ride. Currently we're shooting for a long ride Saturday, followed by a ride/run brick on Sunday to wrap up the heavy stuff.

Then we come to the big help; I'm still $500 short of my fundraising goal with 2 1/2 weeks left. I had planned to contribute most of this myself, but with the move that's going to be a lot more challenging to do. If you have given already, thank you very much. If you haven't given, would you please consider doing so? It helps young adults with cancer, and I know I'd appreciate it very much. Simply click to place a donation with my secure fundraising page. I know times are tough for a lot of people right now, but please consider donating anything you can give. When I started this process, I know people took a leap of faith that I wouldn't waste their money, but now that I have put in the training effort that I have and am confident I will finish, you can be certain donating to this cause that your money won't be wasted either in helping the folks Team Fight helps, or in helping me reach the starting line.

If you get me to the starting line, I promise I'll get me to the finish line.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Uh, yeah, so....

I've got a whole lot to tell you but some of it I can't tell you yet, but I will, I promise, as soon as I can. Probably tomorrow.

But here's one thing I can tell you; I had a really good/lousy ride yesterday. I did 35 miles in 2 1/2 hours, it felt really hard. Maybe thats because the first half was almost entirely uphill. I did a total of 835 feet of climbing in 35 miles, which may not sound like a lot but in 85 degree weather with 70% humidity and not being a great climber to begin with, it felt like a lot. I haven't walked a hill in a long time now, but the one just beyond where I turned around at the halfway point in the ride I would most likely have had to walk. Looked brutal, and as my legs felt like they were already having an off day, I turned tail and went home.

When I got home and realized I still averaged almost 14 MPH even with all the climbing I was pretty happy. I just hope my legs don't feel like that on race day. It was hot, and I think I was a little dehydrated before the ride because I just couldn't feel hydrated from the minute I got on the bike. I'm trying out Strava, which is another online tracking too for workouts, which gives you options for competing with other people for who has the best ride over segments of road. I doubt I'll podium any section anytime soon, but it's fun to see who does well.

My breakfast that morning was not a great choice (McDonalds breakfast sandwich), which has further convinced me to cut that crap out of my diet altogether. Once we get out of the hotel, that's going to be one of my major goals for fall, dumping fast food off my menu.

This week we've got a swim bike or run every day except Friday, with bricks thrown in, with a 100+ mile ride on Saturday (or Sunday depending on the weather) after which we'll commence tapering. I've been pretty good about food, though I don't have access to a scale right now to check how my weight is again. When I last checked it, I had stagnated at 319. With taper I doubt it will drop much more, but I just don't want to gain any weight.

We're still planning our trip home, so if you read this, expect that I'll be around Michigan and Ohio September 9th-17th, with some time spent in Columbus hopefully on 9/13 and 9/14.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A very long day

The past couple days have been pretty rough at work, but I'm not going to bore you with the details of that part of my life. Instead, I'll bore you with completely different details of my life. Today, is going to be a very long day. This morning, my lovely wife Rachelle took flight for an out-of-state job interview. By this morning, I mean I've been up since around 3:15, and by out of state I don't want to jinx it by providing too much information, but it rhymes with Corth Narolina.

I went right to work after dropping Rach off, and because of a standing meeting we have each week, I look to be putting in almost a 12 hour day before I get to go home. Thankfully we're expecting good weather, so I can get in a nap and then head out for a 12 mile run/walk in the very quiet small business area behind the hotel.

On another note, thanks to all those who have donated to my fundraising so far. I've got 3 1/2 weeks to put together the last $500 to reach my goal, so if you haven't yet donated I'd sure appreciate it.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Race Report: Wild Fish 2 mile swim

I'm afraid of sharks. Most people reading that sentence would say "well, that's a good an rational fear to have. Sharks can eat you, and therefore respecting and fearing them makes sense". My fear is slightly irrational though, as it has mostly prevented me from doing much ocean swimming in the 2 years we've lived in Boston. While I've now participated in 2 races that involved ocean swims, the thought of swimming mostly alone, even in shallow ocean water pretty much terrifies me. I guess I can be thankful that swimming with a large group in a race seems to distract me from this fear for the most part, I can get through races with ocean swims.

Collins Cove in Salem harbor was mostly placid and not at all what I expected for our swim, which helped a lot with my shark phobia. While it does have the feel of that perfect calm beach that would get terrorized in a Jaws movie, the fact that there hasn't been a shark attack in MA in 75 years helped me feel a lot better, and that it's a long swim back out to sea for a shark to be that for in looking for food.

When you look at the picture above, imagine an orange buoy in the middle of the opening way out in the distance. That's where the far buoy was in the race with buoys around the rest of the cove. The weather wasn't as sunny as this pic; it was the perfect overcast day where the buoys stood out great against the grey sky.

There were 198 swimmers split almost evenly between the 1 mile and 2 mile swims, with our 2 mile group getting an 8 minute head start on the 1 milers. I started near the back of the pack with my goal very simply to  finish under the cutoff. With the tide coming throughout the first hour of the race, I expected some challenging moments, but the first mile went surprisingly well.  I sighted pretty well, I wasn't as tired as I thought might be, and while I was at the back of the pack, I managed to PR the first mile by a couple of minutes, with the announcer telling me I was at 45:30 when I made the turn on the second loop.

The second loop was a little harder as I was pretty tired and not used to swimming in salt water for that long. I got a decent amount of chafing around the neck and underarms from the salt getting into where my suit was rubbing against me. I did make sure to eat a GU before I started the second mile, which helped a lot. I swam with the goal of just reaching each buoy taking a quick break and then swimming to the next buoy. This worked really, well with the exception on the way back from the far buoy where I had to take an extra break. Just a quick few seconds of catching my breath before I moved on.

As I got about 1/3rd of the way through the second mile I realized I had my own personal kayak escort who I assumed was assigned to me because I was last. I talked to him a little during breaks and it was nice having him there, though I did my best not to think about him being there. I hate being the one who holds up the volunteers from going home by being last.

Knowing that I had such a strong first mile, I was driven to go a good hard constant pace to finish the swim in a good time, which I can happily say I did. My time for the 2 miles was 1:37:43, which I'm super happy with. That gives me over a full 40 minutes to finish the last .4 miles on race day to make the cutoff, and means I should be done under 2 hours, which is my primary goal for the swim. Even better, I wasn't the one holding up the volunteers, as two older gentlemen finished after I did. I hope I'm as kick as as they are at that age. The oldest guy was 71, and did the 2 miles in 2:03.

Rach did even better than I did, putting up a 1:22. She did that even after running into a bunch of jellyfish. The jellies in northern waters bloom late and were way too young to cause her any pain, which we're both thankful for.

The weather hasn't cooperated today, as we had a long run planned, but we'll get it in this week yet.

Friday, August 12, 2011

1 month til Rev 3 Cedar Point

Yesterday was 1 month from Cedar Point. 1 month. With taper, that means really about 2 more weeks of hard training and then two weeks of taper. We still have some work left to do, but we're getting through it, and in the final home stretch. I keep my Timberman medal at my desk as motivation through the rough days at work, and it also serves as a reminder that I can do anything I put my mind to.

While hotel living is an interesting experience, Rachelle in particular always seems to find ways to make things enjoyable. There's just something in my wife that looks at every new experience as an opportunity for adventure, and for that I am eternally grateful. One of the best things we've done is look into gyms in the area, and as a response to the utter lack of indoor swimming (seriously, both the Y and the closest gym chain location with lap pools have them torn up at the same FREAKING time for service), we've taken to swimming in Dug Pond in Natick a few evenings a week. It's a small pond, a little narrower than Walden, and not quite as clear, but cleaner than Upper Mystic. We supplement with Friday afternoon swims in Walden to get in our long swim each week.

The best part of swimming at Dug Pond is the fact that if you go to swim outside the roped in area, it's entirely free to do. The bad part is that weather has played a role in spoiling or cutting short our swim several days this week. Swimming in the rain is fine, swimming in thunderstorms is not. With that said, I think we got in enough mileage these past few weeks that I'm ready for Sundays 2 mile swim race.... so long as I can stop thinking about sharks long enough to finish. The race adrenaline got it out of my mind when I did the Fantastic Nantasket tri a couple years ago, so I'm hoping for the same on Sunday.

The big news (here I am burying the lead again) is that Rach and I celebrated having only one month of time left until the race by doing an 80 mile ride yesterday. it was our first at that distance, and frankly, it went pretty well. The time was about what I expected for 2 people who hadn't previously done that distance but had trained well enough to do it. We took mostly roads that comprise the Pan Mass Challenge 1 day route (an excellent idea that Rach gets all the credit for) meaning the quality of the road surface was mostly very good. We did struggle to navigate our way back home a little as the PMC course is a one way course and is marked as such. It added some time to our ride with some extra stops, but we got to see a different ride for much of the way back which gave us a chance to see some new sights. We ended the ride with a little 5 mile mini-criterium in the small business loop behind the hotel, which Rach won. Damn her aerobars.

I still need to reach my fundraising goal as well, but thankfully the due date is not until the day of the race.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

togetherness, rain, and baseball cards

When you live in a one bedroom apartment, it might seem small, but there are different rooms and you can have your own space. Now that we're in a hotel room the size of a large efficiency, there isn't a lot of space, but with all the moving, packing, and training it just hasn't felt like we've had a lot of time to just be together and have fun without worrying about anything. Saturday we decided was that day for us, and we took heavy advantage of it. Shopping, walking, and dining plus just hanging out made it a pretty great day, one of the best we've had in a while. Not that we're having bad days, but there just hasn't been the time we want to have.

Unfortunately, it came with a bit of a cost; the 85 mile ride we had pushed to Sunday got rained out.With the trainer packed away, and the weather not cooperating, we're making other plans now, and will get the ride in this week and not affect next weekends training. When the weather broke late in the afternoon I got in a nice hard 21 mile ride at race pace with a good amount of climbing in just over 1:20. Tonight we spent some time at the gym as the weather continued to be uncooperative.

On the plus side, or rather the minus I guess depending on how you look at it, is that I've now LOST 11 POUNDS in the past 30 days. I'm now within 4 pounds of my lowest ever triathlon racing weight (315) with a little over a month yet before the race. I still have a lot of training to do, and there's the dreaded taper period, but I'm going to come through strong and try to be as light as I can by race day. The change has come about through healthier eating, portion control, eating til I'm satisfied, not til I'm stuffed (I have all sorts of good leftovers in our mini-fridge right now), and no late night snacking. Some nights after hard workouts at home, I would raid the fridge when the hunger got to me. Now, the options and opportunities for that are far less, because the items we keep in the hotel room are mostly very healthy.

Being in the hotel has limited my other hobbies because there's no room for a train set, an XBox, or Legos. But I do still have room for a few baseball cards. Topps, the name synonymous with sports cards has a unique set that they've named Allen & Ginter. It's a baseball card product that ties into some of the distinct aspects of turn of the 20th century trading cards (unannounced additions, unique card shapes, etc) along with some of the more modern additions to the hobby (autographs, pieces of uniforms, etc.). One of the things that makes this set unique is the inclusion of superstars in other sports as well as some celebrities and other oddball mix ins (circus freaks, plants, historical figures, and battleships). I bring this up because a fun crossover between my hobbies occurred when my wife opened a pack of cards and out popped a Chrissie Wellington autograph.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A swimming race!

As I've talked about on more than a few occasions, I've been taking advantage of the targeted offers from Active Advantage for free race entries. Last night I was delighted to see the opportunity to enter a swimming race for free! I swooped in, and got the first gratis entry, and am now signed up for the 2 mile distance of the Wild Fish swim at Collins Cove Beach in Salem Harbor on 8/14. This is a great tune up for Cedar Point, because it's colder water (so we'll be wearing our wetsuits), less placid than what we get swimming at Walden, and because it's a race there will be those pre-race jitters and the extra push to swim 2 miles nonstop.

Aside from Walden, we had hoped the local state park that's only 5 minutes from our current hotel would work for training, but it has a fairly small roped in area that is strictly enforced. However, last night we scoped out another public beach which has the single biggest roped in swim area I have EVER seen. Plus, we've read that you can swim outside the ropes, though we'll have to verify that on our visit tonight. Either way, we have the closest beach we've had access to since living in Boston, even if it does cost twice as much as Walden to get in.

I've been pretty tired since the move this weekend, but I'm finally starting to come around. The legs feel better, I slept well, and I'm going to replace the tire and tube on the bike tonight after swimming. Tomorrow night we'll head out to Walden, and then out for take 2 on the 85 mile ride on Saturday.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hotel Living

In the movie Tombstone, there's a scene where Wyatt Earp and his love interest talk about travelling from hotel to hotel and living off room service. While this is a great idea, in implementation it takes a lot of planning. For example, our hotel doesn't actually have room service, so while we're saving money overall by paying less for the hotel than our rent + utilities + insurance, we now pay more for our meals and give up some ease of use when it comes to our training and other aspects of our daily life. (Though I will say maid service is a big balancing factor).

Now that we're getting away from the packing/loadin/unloading process (once I finally found the box in storage this morning with my work pants in it), it's going to be a lot easier to concentrate on training. We had some big rainstorms last night, so training after work got hosed, and frankly with how I felt physically after 3 very demanding days, it didn't seem like a bad idea for my rest day to be Monday night.

We now live much closer to a lake, a 5 minute drive, though sadly it's a state park, so we have to swim inside the lines in order to swim there. Still it has a nice wide swim area, so hopefully it won't feel too constricting for workouts, and we'll make sure to get over to Walden for long swims this weekend.

Tonight I'm replacing that blown out tire with one of the tires I have sitting around. Should get me through this next couple weeks until I can replace it with something better.

Finally, not a lot of news on our next move, other than we know it won't be to Duluth, MN now.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Blown up, blown out, I'm.... movin' out!

So there was a little bit of Billy Joel in that title, not my fault. It's been going through my brain almost non-stop the past week as our last day in the apartment approached. That day was today (Monday), and we got through it. Rach has been packing for the past couple weeks while I worked so that we would have a pretty easy weekend. While yesterday was no picnic with 6 straight hours of heavy lifting, but it's done now after 3 days of hard work. We're now living out of suitcases while Rach closes in on a job and decisions get made on our next move.

Just prior to our sustained packing effort, we had a sustained cycling effort. Or at least a semblance of a sustained cycling effort. Saturday was supposed to be an 80 mile ride day, and it wound up being a 60 mile ride because I completely blew up. The heat index was close to 100, and I just plain blew up. We had a great bit of riding planned, and we found a really nice road that somewhat mimics the Rev3 course, and gave us the chance to ride some serious miles. Unfortunately, I just couldn't get enough fluids in to keep cool. 170 ounces of Gatorade plus some water and even a little root beer. 58 miles took me an hour of pedaling longer than the 50 miles the week before, and an hour of rest time mixed in. Plus, I got major leg cramps that really put the kibosh on the ride.

To add injury (to my bike) to everything else, as we were headed home in trying to cut the ride short, I had a tire blowout on Mass Ave a mile north of Harvard Square. It wasn't just the tube either. Evidently, I ran over something sharp, because there's a major gash in the tire to the point where it has to be replaced. So on top of my problems, my bike had problems too.

We're going to start earlier this coming weekend, to make sure things go right this time, and making sure we get in 85 miles.