Friday, August 14, 2009

Summer update

Wow. Um, wow. Been a while. In the worst news of the summer, our dog Teddy died last week. So in memoriam:

Teddy Bair Tomac

Teddy loved to pal around with his buddy Taylor. They did everything together, from wrestling to playing to napping (Ted frequently used Taylor as his pillow). But when Taylor died 3 years ago, Teddy changed. He became our “goth kid.” He was morose, and for a while, he wouldn’t get off the bed, not even to eat. His heart was broken.

Tarfful came along to help keep Ted alive. But Ted had already lost much of his playful side. He and Lisa still mourned the loss of Taylor. Ted now spent his days sleeping, barking at the vacuum, barking at me, barking at Lisa, and barking at me and Lisa. Lately, he had started to become pals with the neighbors’ Yorkie that they rescued. Howie has no kneecaps in his back legs, and Ted had lost so much weight that he had little muscle in his. So they were a perfect couple of buddies. But Ted would only be interested a little at a time.

Ted still had his personality. He was a very insistent dog, from when it was time to go outside, to when it was time to go inside, to when it was time to eat, or when it was time to be picked up (which was often). In fact, he perfected the art of turning 180 degrees to make it easier for you to pick him up seconds after pushing you in the leg with his front paws to let you know that “it is time to pick me up”.

It’s still hard to realize that Ted is gone. We’ll miss you buddy.

Friday, June 12, 2009

KCCC Tri report

Distance: 1/3 mile swim, 9 mile bike, 2.4 mile run
Goal time: under 1 hour
Previous record: 1:16

Yeah, I was trying to make a big leap forward. I got tired of doing worse in the KCCC than I knew I was capable of. And I thought my new-found fitness from the Ironman in November would help. Only problem, is that Ironman was SIX MONTHS AGO. Crap. And I've spent no time in the water.

So 3 swim practices in the week before KCCC weren't going to get me into swim shape, but at least they'd help me remember my form. I was shooting for a 10 minute swim.

And I got tired of the damn Dam Hill kicking my ass and devastating my cycle times. It's tough to watch all these itty bitty people waltz past me on the climb (though I do kick ass on the downhills and flats). The course has a nice 5% grade for about 3/4 mile as one of the first things you get out of the transition from the swim to bike. It's this hill that kept me from doing the bike leg in under a half-hour in the past. But I've been riding a fair amount since the ironman, and was shooting for 25 minutes.

The run goal was 22:30 - much slower than normal, since it also climbs the steepest part of the damn Dam Hill. And I always have problems on the run.

So how'd I do?

First, I could tell it'd been a while since I swam more than a few shoulders were burning by the time I got 200 yards. But I got into a groove and just kept at it. My swim split was 10:52, about a minute off my goal, and worse yet, I sliced open the underside of my big toe on a rock getting out of the water. I was bleeding all over on my towel in T1, but I wasn't going to pay attention to that when I had a race to finish.

I hit the bike leg with abandon, and thought I'd be able to make up the lost minute with both laps of the bike course. Yeah - I had to summit the Dam(n) Hill twice. I still got dropped by the lightweights, but on the descents, I didn't coast - I kept right at it. There was one guy who called out that he was passing on the left as we crested the hill; poor sap didn't realize that he had lost his chance to pass. I don't think he ever caught back up to me. On the relatively flat mile-and-half backside of the laps, there ain't nobody gonna catch me. I hit 43.3 mph in the race.

But that Dam(n) Hill bit me on the second lap - I need to drop 30 lbs. I ending up losing a little more time on the bike overall, with a bike split of 28:30.

So the Run leg was a one lap of 2.4 miles. If I hadn't just got done being in anaerobic hell for the last 35 minutes, I'd say it was a decent course. But the combination of my running (lack of) skills and the gouge of flesh that was missing from the underside of my big toe, I managed a measly 24:00. Yyeah, I checked after the race and seems a 1-1/4-inch by 1/4-inch section of my flesh was ...missing. My socks and shoes were filled with blood i.e. Curt Schilling.

So total time was 1:06:43, enough to set a new personal record, but also slow enough to realize what I need to work on.
I finished 32nd in my age group (out of 69). I was 30th out of the water, 19th on the Bike, and 57th on the run. So guess what I'm focusing on for the next 12 months? Well, I will when this gouge heals.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

42.7 miles an hour is very fast on these tires...

So it's been a while since I posted. But I have an excuse. I am finishing up (after nearly 4 years!) my master's programs. That's right, programs. Just have one little team paper to finish and I will officially have completed my MBA to go along with a Master's in Ag Economics. Though I am not keen to call myself an economist any time soon...

And as you can tell from the log to the right, the training is picking back up. Not nearly as much as for the Ironman, but I am trying to get ready for a sprint tri in a couple of weeks - 1/3 mile swim, 9 mile bike (though it should be 13.5), and a 2.5 mile run. My goal time is 1 hour or less - and my previous best is about 1:15. that's 10 minutes to swim, 2 min for transition 1, 27 minutes for the bike, 1 min for t2, and 25 min for the run (though my running pace is picking up - I hit a sub-8 min mile today, which i the first in a long time!)

I just wish the bike lap was longer - it's 2 laps of a 4.5 mile course - just as you get into the rhythm of the bike, it's time to get off. And I do loves my the bike. In fact, this past weekend, I set a new personal record of 42.7 mph on my bike. Now granted, the road I use for these speed tests does slope down a little, but not much. It's a nice double-wide lane with very little traffic. But pedaling 42.7 mph is no easy feat - in fact my heart rate monitor had me at 199 bpm...which is well above my 100% level.

This comes 3 weeks after setting a record of 42.3 on the same course with similar conditions. So I hope the tri, which is actually a hilly course, will let me go even faster - I usually get up to 44 or 45 mph in this event, and that's on the old, non-aero bike.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tomac TRIgger140.6

Here's version 2.0 of the bike. Just need to get those decals for the "model name." Now that weather is nice, I can't wait to ride!

Fork: Reynolds TT
Wheels: Mavic Kysrium
Drivetrain: SRAM Force crankset (53/39), Force derailleurs, Force brakes, SRAM Red Cassette (11-26), SRAM 1090 Hollowpin Chain
Cockpit: FSA Vision TriMax aerobars, Cane Creek TT brake levers, SRAM TT900 shifters
Saddle: Profile Design TriStryke Ti with X-Lab Flatwing attachment
Pedals: Shimano Look-compatible
Computer: Cateye Cadence

Other tidbits: Tomac Neoprene Chainstay Protector, Ironman decal, FSA faux carbon-fiber bartape

Monday, March 9, 2009

New Season - New Changes

So it's time to start up for 2009. I've been trying to stay in somewhat reasonable shape, but it's been tough to stay motivated AND find the time (even more difficult when I am traveling for work so much - in fact. I put 1300 miles in my last trip)!

I'm circling 2, maybe three events this year. It'll be tough because I still have 2 more classes to go - and they start today, just in time for spring when I want to get out of the house!

1. KCCC Tri - This is always on my list. It's nice and short (1/3 mile swim, 9 mile bike, 2.5 mile run) and I think I can do really well this year. Just got to get that running thing down.

2. X-Terra - I've always wanted to do one of these. Hopefully this year in Arkansas, but maybe not. It's off-road all the way - swim in a lake, mountain bike, and trail run. I have a feeling I will love this.

3. KC Olympic Tri - it's new this year, but with all the school and travel, we'll see if I can make it.

Other than that, not much else. I need to get school done so I can be finally finished. Sept 2005 seems like so long ago!

Oh, and the changes? New bike upgrades! Look for pictures of Version 2.0 of the world's only Tomac Tri bike soon!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Troublemaker (Reprise) - Weezer

So what happened in the court case? The judge called our case Tuesday morning, and asked us to try to work it out amongst ourselves one last time, if it were possible. We went into the hall, and it was clear they were upset that I had found what insurance they had and that I had filed a claim (on the advice of my insurance agent and an un-named source at the police station). The husband told me that even if I won, the insurance company would likely hire a lawyer to appeal the judge’s decision and take it to “Big-boy court, whatever that is.” Immediately I felt insulted; one, that he would use such infantile terms when he had to know that I knew he was a lawyer (especially as he stood there in his expensive pin-striped suit), and two, that he would think I would get scared. What insurance company would hire a lawyer for a $420 claim appeal? That’s ridiculous. This only increased my resolve.

We went back in front of the judge, and I presented my case. I was very nervous – more so than if I was speaking in front of a large group. I thought I did a decent job – looking back, I wish I had said things a little more clearly or remembered a few additional points, but all in all, it was OK. I stayed calm, and presented my itemized damages, pictures and diagrams of the incident, and did my best to stay level-headed and organized.

Jonalee gave her testimony, and it was a little more scattered. At one point, she told the judge that she had never been in an accident, had never gotten a ticket in her life, that her kids get on her for her cautious driving and slow speeds, and that she “refuses to break the law.” After which, she and her husband both testified that they didn’t provide insurance to me when I asked for it as the result of an accident – which is a violation of the law.

The judge then asked the husband what he was there for. When the husband replied that he was not in the car at the time of the accident, the judge said to him in his best so-why-are-you-here tone, “So you are only here to tell me about the conversations after the incident.”

The judge deferred ruling on the spot, and instead told us he would issue a written judgment, which he hoped to have to us in the next few days. So you can only imagine how tough it was on Lisa and me, wondering who the judge would hold responsible, and if we lost, how we would pay for the front bumper. I was pretty confident though, that the decision would be either a both-at-fault or in my favor.

Wednesday passed with no mailing. Thursday, at Thanksgiving dinner with Lisa’s family, I was happily surprised when Lisa’s cousin’s kids (ages 6 and 8, whom we baby-sit often and have a lot of fun with) presented me with my very own 15-foot Ironman banner. Katy and Jackson had drawn pictures of me swimming and biking and running; Jackson drew pictures of sharks swimming around me. They even put my final time. It was awesome.

Friday came, and in the mail was the judgment.

I had won.

Now it’s time to go get my Ironman tattoo. Since I bleed green for MSU, I think it’s only fitting that my M-Dot be an S-Dot instead.

I am Ironman.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Devour - Shinedown

I lay down to sleep about midnight, but kept waking up through the night – either I was too cold or too hot. The pizza wasn’t sitting well either. At 3 AM, I decided to get into my turkey sandwich, even though I wasn’t feeling hungry, hoping it would settle down my stomach. Even though it was soggy, the lettuce was wilted, and the tomato was under-ripe, I don’t know if anything ever tasted so good as that sandwich did at that time.

I woke up at 7:20, stiff as a board, and headed down for the hotel’s breakfast, and was immediately overjoyed at the smell of bacon and eggs. Delicious! But I was quickly discovering that even though I was hungry often, I couldn’t eat much before I was full.

It was hard work getting my bike boxed up and out for shipment – I felt out of breath every time I moved. I packed my gear and headed for the airport. I walked past the Wendy’s counter and didn’t hesitate to buy a double cheeseburger with bacon. Again, delicious, but I could only eat half the meal before I was again stuffed.

The ride home wasn’t bad, but I was so sore that it was impossible to get comfortable. I dozed a little bit, but it was impossible to get any real rest. Not good, since I had a court hearing the next morning.

Monday night it was next to impossible to sleep, either because I hurt everywhere or because I was going over the case in my head. I got hungry every hour and a half. I weighed myself when I got home, and had lost 5 points of body fat and about 7 pounds.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

'Til I Collapse - Eminem

Immediately after the finish, volunteers grabbed me on both sides and threw a mylar blanket over me (I have to admit, I got a little chilly from time to time out there, and saw a few people on the run course wrapped in blankets to keep warm). They put my finisher’s medal over my neck, gave me my finisher’s t-shirt and hat, and asked me how I felt. I responded that I felt great! My biggest worry was how to get the 5 miles back to the hotel with my bike and all my gear – I thought I would have to ride back on the bike through some pretty sketchy parts of town, exhausted. I was not looking forward to it, but I would do it since I had no other choice.

Then the photographer wanted to get my picture, so I handed the blanket and my stuff back to the volunteers and posed for the cheesy photo you see here. I didn’t realize until now how I was leaning to the left so much.

I passed through the crowd of volunteers that were helping people to either the medical tent (didn’t need it) or the food tent (not really hungry but knew I was calorie deficient). My hear rate monitor, which recorded the calories expended, showed ‘----‘, meaning I had burned over 9,999 calories – I estimated I burned about 12,000.

I grabbed a handful of fries (lots of salt!), and two pieces of pizza. I got most of the fries down. But could barely get the pizza down (and it wasn’t that good). My stomach was hungry, but over the course of 18 hours (the last meal I had was at
4 AM) it had shrunk. I couldn’t put much in.

I finished my meal and made my way to find my warm-up suit from the morning – I was getting cold, even with the blanket on. I got my gear, fished out my cell phone, and called Lisa to tell her that it was all over.

Afterwards, I found my other bags and hitched them to the bike. But just as I was about to climb on the bike for the long, cold ride home, I spotted a familiar face – my new best friends, from Mexico City.

These guys were staying in the same hotel as I, and had a big SUV. I had hitched a ride with them the day before to drop off my transition gear, and asked if I could hitch one more ride. They were more than happy to; so I went with them to round up the rest of their group.

As I was waiting, I grabbed a turkey sandwich that the event was passing out to the crowd, knowing I would be hungry later. We got the bikes loaded into the SUV, I jumped in the other car that they had, and got a ride back.

I got back to the hotel, grabbed a shower, and called Lisa one more time to let her know I made it back, and collapsed on the bed. It felt soooooo good to be off my feet.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Stronger - Kanye West

By this point, most people would get pretty emotional about coming in to the finish. The culmination of a year’s worth of preparation and training. The constant focus on a singular goal. All the sacrifices made by those that supported you. All the sacrifices you made so you could train, instead of spending time with family or doing other more enjoyable things. And to have the smiling face of a loved one be there to see you finish?

I have to admit that I got a little emotional, too. But it was on the first lap. See, Lisa couldn’t make it down with me, even though we had originally planned for it. I had the hotel free through all the points I had racked up in work; enough miles to fly her free and a voucher to fly me for cheap. But I waited about 3 days too long between checking the price and actually making the reservations – the mileage needed to fly free doubled, and the price went up by about 50%. So I was there by myself, and it really hit me on the first lap of the run when I saw all the cheering people in the crowd, and even though people were shouting for me, I knew it was only because they did for everyone. The one person in the world that I wanted to be there cheering me on wasn’t there.

But on this, the third lap, all the emotions had already drained out of me. Every step that I took that got me closer to the finish also sharpened my focus. I knew I had 15 hours beat – could I break 14:45? It was hard to tell just how far I had left and my time to make it. I thought I might come in at 14:50.

So I kept pushing. I did stop and walk when my heart rate shot up past 160; when it came back down, I started running again.

As I came to the transition area, I picked up the pace a little more. Some of the folks I had been chatting with throughout the race had moved past me when I slowed to let my heart rate drop; I could see them ahead.

I wanted to catch them.

With about 200 yards left, I moved from jogging to running. With 100 yards left, I went from running to sprinting. I could see the finish line. I could hear the crowds. I could hear the announcer as he proclaimed everyone that passed beneath the finish an Iron Man.

Then, with 50 yards left, I could no longer hear the crowds. I could barely hear the announcer. I was so focused on getting there. I couldn’t have slowed down if I wanted to – my legs were moving of their own will, and I was along for the ride. I’m sure I looked as about as graceful as a new-born giraffe.

I remember passing the Ford Escape they had on display. I remember the crowds on each side extending their hands to give me high fives as I came into finish, and extending my arms out as far as I could reach on both sides to return the gesture. I barely remember the announcer saying my name.
I crossed the line, triumphant.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I’m Not Over - Carolina Liar

With about a quarter-mile to the end of the second lap, I started jogging – mostly to be able to run through the crowds. They had started to thin down a little, as most had moved to the finishing chute. It was about 8 o’clock – I had hoped to have been coming in to finish myself at this time, but considering the calves and the bike/dehydration, I was very happy that I was only about an hour and a half behind.

Then, normally where I had stopped running and started walking again, I was able to keep running. I kept running up to the second aid station (the one with the massage tent), used the portajohn, and then kept running. It seemed I had my fill of liquids, and so I was going to take on fluid every other aid station.

I kept running until the next aid station, where I thought I might have a PowerGel. Alas, it was coffee flavored – and I HATE coffee. I had to take a drink of water and clean out my mouth. I walked up the steep (but short) incline, past the message board, and proceeded to run to the next pit stop.

I kept this up – running where it was flat or downward-sloping, walking up hills and through the aid stations (where it was crowded enough to make running difficult anyway) – for the rest of the course. I think the compression socks I bought the day before were the best $15 investment I ever made. The wall that everyone mentions when they talk about a distance event? I realized, with about 5 miles to go, that I had already broken through that on the bike. The run, even though I had walked most of it, was on the other side of the wall. And I had not only broken through, I was getting faster.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Move Along - The All-American Rejects

As I came to the end of the first lap and the beginning of the second, the crowds were still out cheering on the athletes. I found a little energy and started jogging slowly through the masses. The sun was starting to go down by this time, so as I started the next lap, the volunteers gave me a glow ring to wear around my neck. I put it on and immediately it hurt – the back of my neck was raw from the chafing. I kept jogging to the first aid station, took a sponge, squeezed out the water, and tried to use that as a pad on the back of my neck.

About that time, this chipper young girl came up, wearing a turkey hat – it was stuffed and made to look like a just-cooked turkey – a reminder that all the calories I was burning would be regained in the form of turkey, mashed potatoes and more. I couldn’t wait.

After she passed, I slowed down again and walked to the Pit Stop aid station, and had them give me a full leg massage – calves and quads this time. The masseuse was impressed that I had as much flexibility as I did when she went to stretch me out, so I thought that was a good sign.

After the aid station, I went up an incline and over a bridge, then started to jog a little on the decline. It felt pretty good, and with the sun going down, it seemed that I was better able to keep my heart rate from skyrocketing. I ran almost to the next aid station since it was flat terrain, but then walked a large portion of the lap – through the aid station (where all the water and Gatorade now wanted out) up the hill and through the big Ford display – they had a message board for the athletes to cheer them on (most of the spectators put their messages in at the transition area booth, and we could see them as we ran along).

By this time, I was starting to feel the need for more energy sources than just Gatorade. I had left my fuel belt and Clif bars behind, so I knew I needed a little more energy. At the next aid station, I grabbed a cup with pretzels, just as my bladder needed emptying. I stepped into the portajohn, set my cup on top of the TP dispenser, and as I turned to lock the door, the cup slid off and right into the latrine. So no pretzels for me.

The next aid station, I ate the pretzels BEFORE the portajohn so there would be no repeat. When I got to the special needs area, I grabbed the ibuprofen and cheddar Chex mix. It tasted awesome, but my throat just couldn’t handle the scratchiness of the food – it hurt to eat after a few handfuls. So I had to toss it at the next aid station.

I ran a couple more times, and was happy that my heart rate was staying in range. I knew then that if I could get my legs to cooperate, I might have a chance at beating 15 hours.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Born Too Slow - The Crystal Method

I had made up my mind to walk the entire first lap, just to give my calves a break. As I started, there were a ton of people cheering on the runners – and I felt like an idiot walking when everyone else was running. But I couldn’t run. Even when I tried to take a few steps at a slight jog, my calves howled with pain.

At the first mile marker, I saw that I had taken about 16 minutes to walk that distance. I did a quick calculation and knew I would make the 17-hour cut-off, even if I walked the entire run course. I didn’t like it, but I knew that my best run time over a long distance was about 12 minutes per mile. That meant that I only ran 66 percent faster than I could walk at a fast clip. I was willing to give up a third of my speed to have the energy to finish.

At the next aid station (complete with Pit Stop theme), I was so thankful they had a massage tent set up for cramps and aches. I told them what had happened with my calves, and they gave me a nice 5-minute rubdown of them. It felt so good!

Knowing how dehydrated I had gotten on the bike, I grabbed a cup of water and a cup of Gatorade, especially since I opted not to take the fuel belt. I walked the next mile to the next aid station (rock’n’roll theme again), and again, water and Gatorade.

The run course brought us into the transition area twice each lap, and we had a ‘special needs’ bag in that area. I had ibuprofen and Cheddar-flavored Chex Mix (I needed the salt!) in my bag. I had been taking salt tablets throughout the bike leg, and was taking them on the run, too. I debated whether or not to take my special needs bag now or wait to the next lap – I decided to wait.

The next aid station was super-hero themed, complete with a guy dressed as Batman, and one dressed as the Incredible Hulk. Everyone else had home-made capes on, and there were pictures of comic-book superheroes everywhere. Of course, Ironman had a nice big picture. I took on Gatorade and water and kept walking.

The next aid station also had a hero theme, but this time, it was inspirational signs with famous quotes of what made a hero. Again, more water, more Gatorade.

After that, the loop took us over a bridge (one lane was closed but traffic was going through both ways), then down through a gravel parking lot, along the bank of the other side of the river, and towards what seemed to be another aid station. By this time I was starting to get re-hydrated and was looking forward to the portajohn – my kidneys were about ready to burst. But at the last minute, the course took a hard right, away from the portajohns and the relief they promised.

Remember that horse-manure scent I thought I smelled in the swim? Turns out, it was – there was a horse corral that we ran by next. Then we started to go under a bridge, and into a park-like area. I didn’t remember that as part of the course – it seemed like we weren’t going the right way. But there were signs and volunteers marking the way, so it just seemed like I was getting lost.

So, through the park, past the people grilling hamburgers (I mentally abused them for having such tasty delights that tempted me!) and on to the next station, a military fort theme, where more water, more Gatorade and finally the portajohns awaited me.

The next part of the course was a nice ¾-mile or more climb up a pretty steep road section. The mountains/hills that surround Tempe had a few smaller relatives in this park, so it was pretty neat to be running along and all of a sudden – Bam! - there’s a mound jutting out of the ground next to you.

After that climb, there was a nice long descent to another aid station that was under a bridge where they REALLY cranked up the music. They were having a lot of fun, and it was hard not to poke a little fun at them for being “trolls under the bridge.”

After that, we ran past a marina and to the aid station that our course veered away from earlier. This one had a “Shootout at the OK Corral” theme, and there was a big, jovial guy there that I asked if he was nicknamed Cookie – he laughed and kept encouraging us along.

From here, we mirrored the course back to the bridge, back over, and along the river on the south side bank, past the other aid stations (hero, superhero) but these were the back-side of the aid station so there wasn’t a whole lot of excitement. I guess being a half-mile from the end of the lap was excitement enough.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bleed It Out (Steve's Ironman Edit) - Linkin Park

I got to the end of lap two, and the people were still cheering and shouting, but I knew I had lost time – and not because of the stop. My average speed had dropped to 17.6 mph. I headed out on lap 3 knowing that it was going to be the hardest bike ride I’d ever done.

Sure enough, my back started recruiting other body parts in its screams of protest. My shoulders, neck, calves (which just hurt, period), quads, hands – everything – joined in the cacophony of agony. I rode upright – knowing this would slow me down, but felt soooooo good on my back.

I stopped once on the way out and twice on the way back to stretch out my legs and especially my back. I could feel that my body was dehydrated – even my contacts were starting to get cloudy and dried out. I tried drinking, but it just wasn’t enough.

As I rode closer to the transition area, a few hardy souls were there, but most of the cheering crowds had left. What was a mile of people packing the streets like a parade was in town had become a ghost town. They had moved on to the run, and as I came into the transition area, I could hear them cheering for the people that were already running (or in the case of the professionals, coming into the finish area).

I coasted into the dismount zone and gave the volunteer my bike. I stiffly walked to get my bag of gear for the run, walked into the change tent, and found an unoccupied chair. I plopped down, and slowly began taking my bike stuff off.

Inside the gear bag I had a fuel belt to carry gel and water. But it seemed to weigh so much – I decided then and there that I wasn’t going to wear it. I didn’t want to drink the gel anyway, since I had had enough on the bike. I found the compression socks I had bought the day before that went up to my knee and knew I had to wear those for the run. After a 9 minute stop (which included going to the med tent to get saline solution to help my dried-out contacts), I started out on a fast walk to begin the 26.2 mile marathon final leg.

There was no way I could run.

Why Do You Love Me - Garbage

The bike course was 3 laps of an out and back course that took us through the Maricopa Tribe reservation and just into the foothills of the mountains. Each lap has about 350-400 feet of climbing, but very gradual, though most of it is the last 9 miles before the turnaround. I was very excited about riding on this course, since my size usually is a detriment to me on the bike; yet I still consider the bike to be my strength in triathlons. But I was also nervous, since I had spent so much time in training on my weakness, the run, and hadn’t logged as many miles on the bike as I knew I should have. I was relying on experience to help me through on that one. I was also concerned because of the time lost training thanks to the car accident – right when I would have been putting in the most miles, I had to sit out for a week to let the wounds heal. The longest I had ridden this summer was 75 miles… and that was only one time.

But of the greatest concern was how my calves would affect me. I needed them for the bike, and they were already blown out.

So after downing a GU/PowerGel (chocolate – YUM!! Like chocolate frosting!), I headed through the cheering crowds (That was very cool to experience!) out on the bike. I think I had a little bit of adrenaline going, because I started passing people like crazy. I thought to myself, wow, I do like biking the best, especially if I can do this to all these others.

Here I was on my homemade bike, passing these $5000-plus full-carbon-fiber rigs with super aero carbon-fiber wheels. They have the latest in bike technology; I have decade-old technology (of course that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to upgrade, I do have a carbon-fiber crankset that I picked up on an on-line clearance sale for super cheap, and I have a nice aero frame, even though it’s a production over-run from 3 model years ago).

There was a bit of a head-wind on the way out, so when I got to the turnaround and saw that I had averaged 17.5 miles I was super pumped. I started the ride back, and I hit 30-35 mph pretty regularly. When Lap 1 was over, I had averaged 19.5 mph. I thought if I could keep that up, despite the blown calves, I would be in very good shape to not only beat my goal time of 13:30, but I might even be able to get my dream time of 12 hours.

Alas, it was not to be. The wind started shifting, and I started to have problems staying hydrated. The aero position I was in made it hard to get water digested. I had planned to eat a Clif bar on each lap, and I could barely choke one down on the bike. I also started having gas from the air I swallowed during the swim (it’s tough not to). I had made up some gel that became awful – it was designed to be more of a drink than a gel, and tasted very granular. I kept adding water to thin it out, and that helped a little, but I still cringe at the thought of it.

As I came into the turnaround for the start of the second lap, the streets were lined with people for about a mile before the turnaround, cheering, shouting, ringing cowbells – it was like I was in the Tour de France. I headed back out for lap two, feeling good in spirit.

But my body started to feel worse. My neck started to hurt – the wetsuit had chafed it, and now the sun was beating down on it. I could feel that I was dehydrating, too. I kept forgetting to drink, and when I took a big drink, it hurt my stomach. I couldn’t eat the Clif bar, and my gas was so bad, I had to make sure that any rider behind me was at least 50 feet back. And I wasn’t really sweating, instead, my nose was running horribly – I had to keep shooting snot rockets to the side of the road. It was pretty gross.

At the half way point, I made up my mind to stop, stretch my legs and especially my calves, slather something on my neck, and take my time to get a Clif bar down so I could have enough energy for the third lap.

I think I had a nice 5-10 minute stop, and ended up chatting with one of the volunteers about my car accident and legal drama. Each of the aid stations had a theme; one was Pony Express, where they dressed as cowpokes, another was rock‘n’roll themed with a blasting sound system, and the turnaround was the North Pole, where they dressed as elves.

I got back on my bike to ride to the end of lap two, but something had changed. The wind was now blowing from the side, and I had no tailwind to help me back. I still cruised down the hill, passing other athletes, but it wasn’t the same. Soon, about 15 pros passed me in short order as they finished their last lap and moved on to the run. And my back that had been sore all week prior to Ironman started to REALLY hurt. Plus, I had forgotten to do something about my neck.

So I stopped at the next aid station, grabbed a glob of Vaseline, and slathered it on my neck and my now-chapped lips. It felt really good to stand upright – the hunched over position made my back scream and my shoulders ache.