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Saturday, June 27, 2009

2009 Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene Race Report - Epilogue

Favorite race day quote (from a woman behind me upon entering an aid station on the run):

"Gatorade! Gels! Oh my god, if I have another gel I'm gonna puke."

Everyone I talk to keeps telling me that I should be proud and happy to have finished. But honestly, there was never a time that I didn't think that I would be able to finish. Even if I had to walk the entire marathon, I was going to finish. I wasn't nervous. I'd been training for 10 months. To me, finishing was an expectation, not a goal - even for my first Ironman. I mean, if I was a weekend warrior or lost 100 lbs in training for this thing and had never done a triathlon before, just finishing is a HUGE accomplishment.

Someone recently pointed out to me that as athletes, we're our own worst critic and I'm sure that's the case here. For me, the hardest part of Ironman was the training. The race itself wasn't THAT difficult. I had some time goal expectations and I missed them all for various reasons. To me, that was the most disappointing thing and why it's hard for me to be happy.

One thing I've noticed is that over the past 2.5 racing seasons, while my run has gotten MUCH better, my cycling has gotten slower. After a lengthy conversation with my coach, we think it's because I've been focusing on the endurance events (halves and Ironman) and not the speed events (sprints and Olypmics). My plan for next year was to only focus on the speed events and this idea was confirmed by our conversation after my coach said the year after his first Ironman, he stuck with the speed events and in his next Ironman in the following year, he was faster.

As far as this guy is concerned, his racing season is over - I need a break. My goal for next year is very simple: get fast.

2009 Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene Race Report - The Run

The run course, like the bike course, consisted of two laps around several loops: first, a small 0.9-mile out-and-back loop, and then a larger 6-mile-ish loop. The first thing I noticed was that my legs felt great. The second thing I noticed was that my fuel belt was fucking heavy and I remember thinking there's no way I'm going to carry this thing for the whole marathon. I was thinking about how to go about losing it when on the way out the small loop, I passed by the special needs station for the run and I figured I could just throw it in there on the way back, which I did. After losing the 2+ lb weight belt, I started moving. My pace for the first mile was 7:41 and I was like, "whoa adam, slow down there" so I backed off a bit and just ran. My pace was good and I was passing tons of people. At mile 6, I had to go again and this time I made damn sure I got everything out before leaving the port-a-potty so I'd not have to go again. After another 5-minute stop, I was on my way again, feeling great, and knowing full well that my entire nutrition plan went out the window. I ran through aid stations taking sips of water and cola and trying to get down some Cliff Bloks, but at that point, I couldn't eat anything. The hill on the large loop at the turn-around sucked not because it was steep, but because it banked severely to the right going up. Almost at the top, I saw Glenn coming down for his finishing stretch and gave him some props. He said hi and honestly looked like he was just out for a Sunday stroll he was so relaxed. He wound up doing a 9:45 or so and placing 2nd in his age group. The run back into town kind of sucked because most of it was this gradual up hill. About a mile or two from town, it started raining, nothing hard, just a light sprinkle - but the temperature started dropping. I came back through the expo area on lap two heading towards the short loop turn-around and passed my sister coming the other direction. She gave me props and I don't recall if I said anything. I hope I did.

A couple miles out I ran into Kerrie coming in for the finish. She looked like shit. I mean, she looked absolutely miserable and like she was trying to pass a watermelon but still run the 7:07/mi pace she averaged for her marathon leg. I moved to my left and we gave each other a waist-high five as we passed. I told her "way to gut it out." She won her age group running up from 7th place after the bike.

My run out on my second lap just plain sucked. When I passed under the bridge by the Coeur d'Alene Resort's golf club about 3-4 miles out I grabbed a thermal parka from a volunteer passing them out. It was raining and 50 degrees and I could see my breath at times. I walked/ran to the turn around and continued a walk/jog combination for a little while longer. At some point on the way back, I just started running and didn't stop. With the thermal parka on, my clothes were getting dry and the rain had finally let up but it was still cold so I kept the parka until I had about 3 miles left and not wanting to finish with it ditched it with a volunteer who seemed rather surprised that I was giving it up. I was motivated at this point and I was flying - or at least it felt like it. I kept passing people saying "come one guys, only 2 miles left!" One response I got from a guy from either Spain or Central/South America: "yes, but I am so tired." I came up on the split where finishers go left and runners heading to lap 2 stay right and I remember feeling so good to stay left and seeing the "to finish" painted on the ground. A left turn, a slight downhill, a right turn, a slight uphill and a left turn had me seeing the finish line a scant half mile away. Sherman Ave. was still rocking despite the weather and it was still very much daylight so I could see everyone in front of me seeming to simply just jog towards the finish but I wasn't having any of that I picked up my pace even more and rocked it to the finish. Gritting my teeth and giving a fist pump ensured two things: 1) that my finishing photo looks really funny, and 2) that I completely missed Mike Reilly announcing my name (if he did) or what he was even saying. Run time 4:52:34 for an average pace of 11:10/mi.

2009 Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene Race Report - The Bike

The bike course is two times around what I can only describe as a 3-loop course. The first loop is an out-and-back course around 14 miles and change in total distance. The middle loop (which I will refer to as the big loop) is the monster - a 40-mile pseudo out-and-back (there are sections on the way back that differ, sometimes significantly, from the way out), technical course with a large amount of climbing and a ton of turns. The third and final loop (to which I won't really refer to at all) is a 1-mile out-and-back stint that feels like it was added simply to get the distance right at 56 miles per course iteration.

My bike started out well enough. I felt good and fast even with the wind and slight hills. People were passing me, but I was consciously focusing on keeping my heart rate from going through the roof. It was already high from coming out of transition and my goal was to get it back down as soon as possible. The long, gradual downhill going out on the first loop allowed this to happen. The bike wasn't very exciting in general. It's 112 miles. That's a lot of time to just ride and think about anything and nothing. I'm pretty sure I got bored at some point and just wanted it to be over. The hills were fine on the first lap and I stuck to my nutrition plan almost perfectly. Just like in training, it was damn near impossible to get any solid food down which makes it very good that most of my calories were liquid. My coach, who uses Infinit as well, said that there was enough water in the bottle when I asked him if I needed to supplement my drink with plain water. Infinit is just a powdered mix that one mixes with water.

My only real complaint about the bike is that people were blatantly drafting and I never saw any penalties given out or in the results. I understand it's hard to not draft when there's a pack of 8 riders all together, but it seems like there could be some better enforcement here because of a lack of spacing out. One might argue that at the beginning of the bike everyone is clustered together so it's almost impossible to space out, but I'm not talking about the beginning of the bike, I'm talking about mile 40 and beyond. My coach said that this may be what eventually drives him from the sport. It's almost impossible to be competitive at those distances when you're the only one following the rules.

I came in for the end of the first set of loops and went out on the second stopping at mile 61 to get my special needs bag - a new set of bottles and two more energy bars which wound up going uneaten. The hills on the second lap were a lot harder but I suffered through them fine. My average speed didn't drop very much between the laps which meant I was being consistent - a good thing in an Ironman. At mile 75 on the way out, I finally saw my sister and she didn't look happy. I did some math in my head and figured that I was well over 20 miles ahead of her and remember thinking "oh my god, what happened?" It turns out, her rear derailleur cable broke at mile 4 on the bike and due to a mixup in communication they sent a sag wagon instead of the support vehicle so she wound up waiting an hour before being able to get back on the roads. I wouldn't see her again until I was over halfway done on the run. At mile 81, the gastro-intestinal problems started and while I'd had to stop for a quick 0:30 pee earlier, this was a 5-minute bowel expulsion - as gross as that sounds. However, after getting back on the bike, I felt great and was able to pick up the pace a bit and made good time coming back into town and T2. Bike time: 6:24:38, a full 24 minutes slower than I was hoping for and even given the potty stops, I wouldn't have hit it. I have to look at the data to see what happened.

My dismount was good and I left the shoes in the pedals rolling right up to the dismount line which looked like it was being manned by a group of volunteers playing red rover as they were lined up side by side across the dismount line. I remember yelling, "I got it, I got it." hopping off in perfect time and running with my bike a few steps before a volunteer said "here, let me take that." I forgot that in Ironman, you don't have to do a lot of stuff you normally have to do in the shorter events. I grabbed my run bag and headed into the changing tent. Finding an open seat towards the exit (everyone tends to cluster towards the entrance) I sat down and the volunteer following me asked me if he could just dump my stuff out on the ground. I said yes and he did so going through the stuff that had fallen out and putting stuff he didn't think necessary back in the bag. One such item was my bottle of sunscreen. By that time it was fully overcast but not yet raining. The wind at this point was moot because it wouldn't make much of a difference for me on the run. Changing shorts, donning my visor, putting on my fuel belt and spare race number (the one I wore during the bike came off due to some clumsy hands - mine), I headed out of the changing tent and got about 10 steps when I had to go again. Fortunately there were vacant port-a-potties right there in T2, but unfortunately, I was in there for probably 5 more minutes hence the rather slow 8-minute T2 time. After I did my thing, I headed out of T2 and on the run.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

2009 Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene Race Report - The Swim

I was only able to get in a few minute swim before the kayakers started kicking the swimmers out of the water and making them head towards shore. I felt much warmer than when swimming the week before - it felt like the water was warmer. I wound up standing in about knee to waist deep water on the far right of the beach - this gave me a straight line shot to the turning buoy as the rectangular loop slanted out and towards the right.

The filming helicopter was right overhead so no one around me could hear anything coming over the PA system. BANG!!!! The gun went off and none of us were ready for it and we all charged out into the water. The first thing I noticed very quickly was that the water was pretty rough. VERY rough. There were white caps and pretty large swells that if I had to guess were well over a foot high. It made swimming interesting as there is a very distinct up and down motion when going in and out of the swells. I recall sighting 2-4 strokes in a row and seeing only water and sky. No marker buoys, no swimmers, no kayaks. On that first leg, actually, I don't recall sighting on an actual buoy until the last one before the left turn.

As usual, the turns were a disaster. Swimmers piled high and in a very tight cluster. This causes the pace to slow considerably just like in a traffic jam. Making the next left turn back towards shore and the second lap, I had to stop swimming for a second and the guy next to me did the same and I recall saying "good god: to which he replied, "no kidding." I have to believe that if there were a way for one to be in a washing machine during a wash cycle, this is what it would be like. The swim back in was much nicer as we had the wind and waves at our back though it occasionally gave the sensation that I wasn't actually moving and upon getting closer to shore and seeing the bottom this illusion proved more than just a feeling. I would take a stroke and the lake bottom wouldn't move beneath me. I suspect it was just an optical illusion but it really did feel like I wasn't making an progress.

Of course with everything going on between the ton of swimmers and the rough water I totally forgot about my form. Which simply means that it was shit and I need to work on it such that it's engrained and natural - that I don't have to think about it. On the second lap, the last section, the last leg if you will back to the beach and T1, I finally felt like I was able to get into a rhythm and started flying by people. But, by that point, it was too late to really get a decent time. Don't get me wrong, a 1:09:02 is decent at a 1:49/100m, but I was shooting for and am capable of doing a sub-hour swim.

My swim run out was good and I got my wetsuit top off quickly. I waited to take the bottom off and did it in the change tent. My one oops here was that I ran the wrong way but was quickly pointed in the right direction to pick up my transition bag and into the tent. I changed fairly quickly taking time to wipe off my feet and face and catch my breath. One mistake I made here was that I put my bike shoes on before I put my compression socks (calves only). I should have put them on under my wetsuit but by the time I realized that, I'd already had my wetsuit on and it was too late. So, I had to take my shoes off and then on again. I ran out straight to my bike but since there were so many of us, my bike wasn't waiting for me with a volunteer and I had to get it directly. The racks were too short for the bike to fit underneath it with my bottles in the cages behind the seat so I had some trouble getting it out and had to turn the bike sideways spilling some of my aero bottle drink in the process. I ran out the the mount line and angling off to the side so I wasn't in the way, hopped on and away I went.

2009 Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene Race Report - Race Morning

We went to bed fairly early and I expected to get only a small amount of sleep. On that note, what amazes me even more about people who do Ironman races is that unless the person doing them isn't nervous or anxious at all, they're done on a ridiculously small amount of sleep. I don't recall when exactly I fell asleep, but I awoke around 1:30 knowing that I'd not get any consistent amount of sleep after that.

I don't recall tossing and turning for the next 3 hours (the alarm was set for 4:30) but I do recall waking up every so often and checking the time. I got out of bed at 4:29 before the alarm went off.

Not to be disgusting, but I had my normal morning BM and then went downstairs to choke down my normal pre-race breakfast for 70.3's and higher: whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and honey, a bottle of Ensure, and instead of water I drank my Infinit endurance drink mix for some extra calories. After breakfast, in what should have given me a warning of things to come, my second BM came rather quickly - it usually doesn't it until on the race site and I have to stand in line for the port-a-potties, which are by then, usually quite nasty. Instead of a normal BM, I had mild diarrhea.

Not thinking anything of it, I got my race gear on, and the rest of my bags together and went downstairs and soon thereafter, we were off to the race start.

I was in a very good mood and I was confident. I wasn't nervous at all and was joking around with the family even posing for pictures in my wetsuit - pictures which I'll spare you from having to view, however, my little sister has already posted them on Facebook.

The pros had already gone off by the time I was in my wetsuit and it took forever to make it to the break in the wall to get down to the beach. I went on ahead and wound up missing being able to get a good-luck kiss from my wife and to tell her I'd see her out on the bike.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

2009 Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene Race Report - Prologue

I'm going to break the report up into multiple posts because while I've not written anything yet, I assume I'll have a lot to write and if it turns out I don't, at least I get to pad my total number of blog entries. (He who dies with the most blog posts wins)

We last left our hero lamenting about the ever changing weather reports last Thursday. Friday, I went for an early morning ride as I didn't do anything on Thursday. Later that morning, we headed back down to the expo on a quest for a rain jacket for my sister who found something that probably wouldn't have sufficed had she wound up wearing it anyway - and she might have, but given her attire as she came across the finish line, it didn't matter. I digress.

We made some small errands before returning to #235 to rest and start preparing our bike and run transition bags. The mandatory athlete meeting started at 7:30 so we headed out for our obligatory pre-race burrito dinner around 6 thinking it would be plenty of time however, the restaurant we found was packed and so we settled for Qdoba and headed straight for the meeting. It turns out the meeting wasn't at the same location as the expo, but rather about a half mile past on the other side of the host hotel, the Coeur d'Alene resort (where for a cool $350/night, you too, could have the privelige of sleeping mere yards from all the action).

We arrived at the banquet tent at 7:15 to find that not only was the athlete dinner completely over (which was fine, we didn't plan on eating there anyway), but they'd already started the meeting and were essentially done with the explanation of the bike segment. After finding a seat mid-tent, I asked the guy next to me when they started and he replied they'd started early, around 7. Needless to say I was little peeved because as anyone who does triathlons knows, the odds of getting a penalty on anything other than the bike or bike related infractions are pretty damn small. I didn't get any penalties, but what's the point of having a schedule and passing it out to all the athletes if you don't follow it?

After the meeting, we returned back to #235 and finished packing our transition bags. I wound up getting to bed a little later than I would have liked, but I don't think it caused too much of a problem.

Saturday morning, we awoke and and eventually made it down to the expo to drop off our bikes and transition bags. After doing so we left to return to #235 to relax for the rest of the day. A mid-afternoon movie with the family that had arrived around noon helped us stay off our feet. We had dinner after a late afternoon nap and went to bed early to get ready for race day.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Weather

I check the weather for Sunday at least several times a day and as of now, 8:22pm on Thursday, it's calling for a high of 63 degrees and a 30% chance of rain.

I've seen the temperature as high as 67, but since the % chance of rain is on a different page, I don't check it as often.

We'll see what happens, but I'll take cooler weather over hot any day of the week.

The Bike/Run Course

Today, we went to pick up our race packets and all the other crap they give out at these races: coupons to local/national retailers, cards for other races, cards for bikes, cards for sponsors, sample packets of various liquids and food (although, this time, there was no food in our packet - perhaps Ironman's sponsorship fees are a tad too high for some of the big athlete food providers).

While I meandered in the expo, my sister went for a swim. We met up later, and after some quick shopping by her, we went back to #235 for a late lunch.

After lunch we drove the course. The small loop of the bike and the run loop were very similar past a certain point, so we drove the run course out and bike course back. The run course is a little hilly for the first few miles but we do get a long downhill back to the start of the 2nd loop and the finish. As I'd already ridden the small loop of the bike, there were no surprises. Those came on the big loop of the bike course.

After several miles of gently sloping uphills and false flats heading North away from CDA, the mother-lode of hills kicked in and all I can say is OH MY FREAKING GOD there's a lot of hills. I don't know how many miles they cover, but shit, I am officially concerned. I'm not worried about the first bike loop. The second, however, is going to suck...badly. I can honestly say that I am actually looking forward to the run because it means that I'll be done with the bike and seeing how my run has improved enormously over the last season and a half (and even more so this season) it should be the easier of the two for me. This means I REALLY need to stay focused on my heart rate on the bike and save the legs not only for the run, but for the second lap of the bike.

This will probably prove to be the hardest part as I tend to completely zone out and I really need to make sure I'm drinking and eating on schedule.

Wednesday

With the past two days taking its toll, I slept in late missing a chance to go swim in the morning before having to go pick up my sister from the airport in Spokane - about 35 minutes West of CDA. But after we returned to #235 for some lunch and some time to let the food digest, I went for a swim sans sister.

Last year, the water was apparently ridiculously cold. This year, it's still cold. I asked a lifeguard and 61 degrees was his reply. It took me probably over 10 minutes to warm up. To make matters worse, the wind was pretty strong giving the North end of the lake where I was some pretty serious chop. I battled through the cold, green water and got in a good swim workout. I now know that I should do at least a 10-minute warmup prior to the race start. Complicating that may be the fact that the pros go off some 35 minutes ahead of us amateurs ensuring that many of us will never actually see them on the course - at least, the ones who will win anyway. I'm hoping they let us in the water after the pros start.

After returning to #235, my sister and I go for a run downtown on the bike path (2 miles from #235) where she tests the water temperature before we return home.

The First Ride

After I was reasonably unpacked and the cart with the broken and flat wheels returned to its den in the parking garage, I dressed for a bike ride. #235 is in a complex called Riverstone and is conveniently close to a bike path that, conveniently, goes straight downtown. I followed the path downtown and wound up, quite by accident, following the small loop of the bike course. It essentially heads straight East through town and turns South/Southeast on to some road that essentially follows the river shoreline. 6 miles down, I run into the hill that is the run turnaround (but since the run loop is run twice, I get to run this hill twice). Unfortunately, for the bike, we continue down the other side of the hill for another 1.5 miles or so and turn around in a parking lot where the road dead ends. The journey back involves the same hill in the opposite direction and I realize that since the bike loop is done twice, I get to do this hill, in all its glory, twice. Fine, I can live with that. I ride back through downtown getting lost several times before heading home to deal with this magical squeaking sound that's been happening since I left #235.

Lucky for me there's a new bike shop downstairs from #235 and I explained my problem to one staff member. He came outside with me and had me ride by him. He heard it, although it was faint. Hopping off the bike, in about 30 seconds, he figured out it was the cap from the pump rubbing against my crank arm. A quick twist and voila, it was fixed.

The Condo

Following the directions to the resort management office, I went in and picked up the keys to our condo rental for the week. The condo, #235, is gorgeous. It's brand new and I'm almost certain we're the first tenants to rent it out from the owners. It's deep and narrow like a DC row house, but it's brand new and not from 1911. I'd give approximate measurements but given how badly I screwed up the wind turbine blades, I'll refrain from embarrassing myself again.

I emptied the Jeep in segments, first carrying everything to the elevator lobby. Then loading up the cart with the broken and flat tires into the elevator (much harder than it should have been) along with the two bikes (mine and my sister's) and the rest of the bags that didn't fit on the cart. The elevator freaked out and started screaming at me. It must have thought someone was stuck in the door because when they finally started closing, it took forever. Arriving at the second floor, I tried to empty the elevator as fast as possible to avoid it screaming at me again and while I was successful, the cart with the broken and flat tires tried very hard to remain on the elevator with all my stuff. After a bloody battle in which no lives were actually lost, I won and the cart begrudgingly allowed itself to be wheeled down the hall to unit #235 where we were going to be staying.

Dragging everything inside and to its appropriate location (as determined by me), I returned the cart with the broken and flat tires to its lair in the parking garage knowing that we would meet again in a final battle of sorts come next Tuesday when we pack up and leave.

Colorado...Wyoming...Montana...Idaho!

While the training portion of my Ironman CDA experience began 10 months ago and culminates this coming Sunday with the actual event (hooray!), the road trip there began Monday around 9am as I chose to drive, splitting the 1000+ mile journey over two days to avoid my normal, little I, "ironman" driving routine in which I drive for 12-15 hours before stopping for the night (but not gas or potty breaks).

Traffic was somewhat heaving heading North on I-25 towards and beyond Ft. Collins. At some point, however, and I don't recall exactly where, the traffic just disappeared and it was just me and the open road (and the very hard/uncomfortable seat in our Jeep Liberty). Sometimes the miles flew by and I eerily "came to" wondering how many close calls I had while zoning out. I'm sure I'm not the only person who's had this happen to them, but it is kind of freaky how we can just drive on autopilot and actually stay on the road while our mind wanders off into La La Land. And sometimes the miles dragged on. One thing is for sure, after I passed I-80, I was on roads that I've never driven on before - or even been on as far as I know. So, the scenery, and there was a lot of it, was all new. Wyoming on I-25 all the way north to Montana is very rolly and very beautiful. With all the rain the front range has had this year, everything is just green....which means bugs....lots of them....impaling their little bodies against my windshield. Some white, some clear with baby eggs that will never hatch, and some, quite grossly, red.

All through Wyoming and Montana, I kept seeing huge flatbed semis passing in the opposite direction each carrying two wind turbine blades. Last Thanksgiving, we drove back to CO from Dallas via US-287 which passes through Excel Energy's wind farm in the Southeast corner of CO. Those things were huge and when we passed by a maintenance shed where several of the blades were on the ground, they were still huge and I (very wrongly) estimated that they were like 40 feet long. The length of the flatbed semi trailer is 120 feet. These turbine blades were hanging off the trailer on both ends. They were absolutely enormous. 40 feet? Are you kidding me?

Billings, MT is about halfway between CDA and Boulder being just short of the mark. After having a rather long time to think about how long it was going to take to get into Coeur d'Alene on Tuesday and the fact that I still wanted to do a ride on Tuesday, I came very close to hitting the low end of my little I, ironman driving hour range as I pulled in to Bozeman, MT a full 150mi beyond halfway and slightly before 8pm ensuring that I would not have a ridiculously long driving day on Tuesday. That said, I rolled into CDA around 1pm having gained an hour due to driving so fast I went back in time. Actually, Northern Idaho is in the Pacific Time Zone. The highlight of day 2 was having to schlep everything but the food from the Jeep to the hotel room and back again in the morning where someone found it fit to park in the middle of the roundabout leading into where the front desk was and also my loading door. The car, a red Nissan Sentra sedan effectively blocked any traffic from getting through the roundabout so I had to back in in order to load effectively. The car was parked there the entire time it took me to repack and load the Jeep and as I was finishing up, this old couple came out to claim their car. I almost said something but decided it wasn't worth it. Besides, she was using a walker.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Nutrition Dilemma

The purpose of a fuel test is to determine how many calories one's body burns from fat and carbohydrates (carbs/CHO). Essentially, you want to burn as many calories from fat as possible for as long as possible because you don't have to replace these calories while training. The more intense a workout is, the less energy your body gets from burning fat calories and the more it gets from burning carbs.

As an aside, any decent weight loss plan would include a fuel test to inform the participant how many calories from fat and carbs they burn at different levels of intensitites and focus on the levels of intensitites that burn the most amount of calories from fat. This, supplemented with a good diet, is arguably the best way to lose weight.

Now, as any triathlete will tell you, their goal is not really to lose weight. That comes naturally, especially if you're training for half or full Ironman events. Most of the time, I don't care or watch what I eat since I'm burning so many calories. But this doesn't mean that race day nutrition goes out the window. For sprint and olypmic distance triathlons, my normal breakfast of cereal will suffice though I will usually add a few more calories for an olympic-distance.

For longer distance triathlons I'm very type A and for halves, I've got my nutrition dialed in perfectly. As this is my first full Ironman, I've broken out the spreadsheet. Assuming an initial 1800 kCal in the bank and assuming 1 24oz. bottle of my cycling Infinit drink mix per hour on the bike and 2 8oz flasks of my running Infinit drink mix, and taking into consideration the kCal burned from CHO on the swim, bike, and run, I'm about 1800 kCal in the hole. This means between the bike and the run I need to consume an additional 1800 kCal.

I'm not sure how fine the line is between consuming too many calories and not enough. I've been on the losing end of that battle and it's not fun. That said, too many calories, I've been told, can result in bloating. I've never actually been bloated in a race, but it doesn't sound like fun.

After consulting with my coach (and I still have a question outstanding), my current plan is to have one PowerBar TT (which tastes lightyears better than the original PowerBar) every 90 minutes on the bike and a Cliff Blok every mile on the run. These extra calories put me at only ~115 kCal in the hole. Not much else I think I can do here and honestly, I'm not too worried.

A Solid Week

Last weekend's ride and run were fantastic. The ride was just solid and the run smooth and steady. I did the run with a master's swimming buddy and honestly, I'd forgotten what it's like to train with someone else. It makes the time go by MUCH faster and you don't have time to think about quitting, or focus on some tiny pain that you wonder if it will become larger and make you stop.

The swimming incorporated some really fast interval sets including an 800m TT followed by 6x200m and a 4x600m, on different days and the body felt good. My swim speed has risen a bit from a month or so ago when I could easily do sub-1:30s consistently. Now, it's a struggle to consistently do 1:35's. However, in yesterday's master's swim class I was able to turn in several sub 3:00 200's. I think it might have been due to my focusing on my stroke finish, i.e., where the hand passes the side of the quad. I think my stroke is normally shorter because I pull my arm out too soon. Leaving my arm in the water a little longer to finish my stroke, allows me more glide time and it's also the strongest part of the stroke.

I'm hesitant to really focus on it during the Ironman swim because since I just started, there's a good chance it'll get sore and I'm not sure what that will do to my shoulders/upper arms for 112 miles in an aero position (yes, I'm aware that I'd not actually be IN the aero position for the full 112 miles).

Tapering...Sort of

It's definitely less volume than I've been doing previously but it really doesn't feel like a traditional taper. My coach says "when in doubt, leave it out." However, I've not really missed any workouts yet. I will after tomorrow but I'm adding my last pre-Ironman massage.

People keep asking me how I feel and I tell them, truthfully, it depends on the day. Last night, after master's swim, I was totally amped. Right now, after a run and splashing around in the pool for 30 minutes, I'm tired.

I guess I just want to get up there, check out the course and just chill.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

T-minus Two Weeks

Tomorrow marks two weeks until Ironman CDA and while I've officially started my taper, the long ride/run on the weekends are coming down a little slower than I was expecting. I suspect this is where my coach's comment "when in doubt, leave it out" comes in to play.

I'm the type of person who absolutely *hates* to miss workouts and while I know my body and will bag a run if I'm just not feeling it, I just don't miss workouts. This probably accounts for my sporadic fatigue on the weekends and sometimes shitty long workouts. After explaining my training program to friends (also triathletes), I get interesting feedback mostly lead by "holy shits" due to the long volume.

This, unfortunately makes me second guess my training regimen. At this point, however, it doesn't really matter since I'm only training for another two weeks and am then taking some much needed time off.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Iterating over JSON data

JSON is pretty powerful when working in web pages because as a hash, it gives you all the benefits of say, a C struct (namely grouping [unrelated] data, but you can declare it on the fly and you can add/remove to/from it on the fly.

Let's say I have the following Javascript JSON object (I used strings as the values but they could be anything: objects, functions, etc...):
var f = {foo: 'bar1',
bar: 'bat1',
bat: 'baz1'};
The call f.foo would return the string 'bar1' (sans quotes).

But, what if you have a JSON object and you want to iterate over all the values, but you don't know all the keys? The following will generate an alert box for each key/value pair but the alert is simply used to show the results and any type of processing could be done instead:
for (item in f) {
alert(item + ', ' + f[item]);
}
NB: Two major caveats:
  1. Because of namespace pollution by, shall we say, less than kosher JavaScript APIs, you can get whamboozled here through JavaScript's allowance of the prototype operator in that items can be magically added to your hash without your knowledge.

    While this is a bug (not a flaw as some websites state) in JavaScript, the onus is on the developer to ensure they don't pollute the namespace with their code. jQuery is very good about this by ensuring that everything is encapsulated so no pollution occurs.

  2. As it is a hash, we are NOT guaranteed the order over which items will be iterated. This can easily be mitigated by using an array to store the keys separately and then iterate over the array to get the correct order. It should be noted that in this case, we can retrieve the length of the hash via the lenth field on the array and thus, don't need the for-in loop.
Fortunately, the fix for this is simple. We simply change the above block to:
for (item in f) {
if (f.hasOwnProperty(item)) {
alert(item + ', ' + f[item]);
}
}
This ensures that we only read items that we placed in the hash - we, unfortunately, still iterate over items that are not ours.