Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sub-12, My Ironman Wisconsin Report

Today is Thursday after the IM, and I'm still feeling the good vibes from what was a great race for me. The soreness in my legs is dissipating, but my back is still pretty stiff. I've got an appointment w/ my Chiropractor today so I'm sure he'll crack me back together.

IM Wisconsin was the race of my dreams. I would fanatize about going faster than 12 hours, but really didn't think it was possible. Hey I'm a slightly overweight 44 year old w/ high blood pressure. Plus I knew how hard it was when last year at IM Arizona I went 12:53. I mean sub-12 is like an hour improvement.

If you've been reading my previous posts, you know that leading up to the race, my personal life was getting a bit out of control. Along the way, with the training, I developed into someone who had the zero patience for just about anything that didn't fit in my IM plans. I guess you could say I got pretty complusive w/ this thing. But its all good now.

Training for this race was definitely more intense than IMAZ. I had a full year w/ my coach, my main man John Hirsch http:\\, and he came up w/ some sick workouts. I think the hardest was a 4 hour hard ride + 2 hour brick run. To top it off the high was something like 95 that day. At the time, actually right up to the day before the workout, I was telling myself, "ain't no way I'm doing this". I figured I'd just get in a long ride w/ some friends and get in an easy 3 mile brick run. I messed up and asked my coach about me change of heart and dude talked me into sticking w/ his training plan for that day.

IM training is always difficult, but this year it was even more tough, because of all the hot temps we've been having. I remember seeing a news report that said this previous August was the warmest in NC recorded history. I didn't do as much running this year, and really focused on cycling. I even went as far as converting my old Tequilo into a fixed gear and mixed that in w/ my training. Going downhill on a fixie will really teach you to be a good spinner.

Coach J would often write in my training plan to find some hills. I looked up some reports on for folks GPS downloads for the bike course and the elevation gain for IM Wisconsin is something like 7000 feet. So for many of my training rides I sought out steep, challenging hills and did repeats. For the locals, Lystra did it for me. Also Yates Store Rd. in Morrisville has this one short, but steep climb.

I also mixed in some bike events in order to mix up the training, but also to get that intensity in. I would always try to hang w/ the lead group of riders. Most often I got dropped, but I'd hang as long as possible. This took me into anerobic levels that I know I wouldn't have reached going solo. I just couldn't push myself that hard on solo rides. But I guess when a pack get going, that natural aggression comes up and everyone takes up a notch. Lastly, the other thing I did for my bike prep was to get in a couple of mountain rides (Blood, Sweat and Gears + The Big Walker Century). That BSG ride had over 13,000 feet of elevation gain. Now that was tough. Then my training plan called for a 3 mile brick run. Now I now why during IM, I never felt bad on the bike. I had good energy throughout.

A couple of more tidbits on training. To stay healthy, I saw a chiropractor once a month. Dr. Josh Stevens, http:\\ is my Chiro and he's a multiple IM finisher. That helped a ton. He knows what its like to be on a bike for 6-7 hours and the right adjustment to keep my back and neck in line. That was definitely worthwile.

Also I bought the TP Therapy kit, http:\\ The price is high ~$120, but hey we spend all that money on equipment, so comparatively it isn't too bad. TP stands for Trigger Point. They have a ball and a couple of rollers that I would use to massage my soleus and quads muscles primarily. There's more uses, but these two muscle groups seemed to need the most work for me. I was fairly diligent with the kit.

Now, on to the race...

I remember talking w/ friends who did Wisconsin in 2005 when they had 90+ temps and then last year when folks were getting hypothermia and thought this could be real interesting for 2007. I guess the weather odds were in our favor because the high was in the low 70's and we had an overcast for the run. It was a bit windy, but not too bad. To let you know how lucky we were blessed w/ good weather, is that on Monday the high was in the 50's and it rained all day.


For the swim I thought to myself, even though I'm a mediocre swimmer line up on the buoy line a few rows behind the front swimmers and go for it. I figured if I started on the right and in the back I was going to get beat up anyway so I might as well line up w/ the fishes. I did encounter a bunch of contact, even at one point somebody grabbed my watch and the strap broke. I had just bought that thing at the Timex booth in the expo and wasn't about to lose it, somehow I grabbed it and stuffed down the collar of my wetsuit. I wasn't trying to lose that $130. Other than that, the swim went good for me and I ended up w/ a 1:18 time.


My bike prep paid off because the bike went really good for me. I never felt like I was in trouble at any point. Not too sound cocky, but I felt like I could surge and pass riders pretty much whenever I felt like it. I had my motivationg going w/ "I can't be killed. I've got the heart of Kunte Kinte". I had to keep reminding myself to keep my pace in check, so I'll have something for the run.

There are a couple of significant climbs and the crowds were off the hook. It felt like I was riding in the TdF, because the crowds line both sides of the roads and create a narrow opening for the cyclists to go through. They wear all these crazy costumes, beat drums, ring cowbells just like at the tour and run alongside you as you ascend. It was definitely a rush. One other thing that helped on the bike was a tip I got from my coach and put 2 Red Bulls in my special needs water bottle. That stuff is the real deal and I had some good energy for the next 20 miles. During the bike I was thinking I could go sub 6 hours but I purposely dialed it back a little bit near the end to prepare for the run. I ended up w/ a 6:01 bike split.


At the start of the run, I felt surprisingly good unlike IMAZ where I couldn't even make to the first aid station w/o walking. A good part of the run goes through the UW campus and the crowds were awesome here too. I was suprised how well I was doing on the run. It almost felt like a training run, even though I had just did a 112 mile bike at a 18.6 mph pace. I was staying on my mantra about "I can't be killed, I've got the heart of Kunte Kinte".

I was able to get some good energy from them and stayed pretty much trouble free until about mile 18-19. At this point the wheels started coming off and I got into the run/walk mode. I tried to stay w/ my mantra, but my energy was fading fast. I just got real tired. I didn't have any bad cramps or stomach problems, I just got tired. Even though I was real tired when I hit mile 25, somehow a burst of energy appeared and I was able to come in somewhat strong and finished w/ a 4:12 marathon and an 11:45 IM.

Here's some tips that worked for me: (1) Red Bull halfway through the bike; (2) don't take too many calories during the bike - I avoided bloating this year; (3) its about the bike for training - my longest run was only 17 miles; (4) endurolytes - even on the run, I didn't have any muscle cramping issues nor stomach problems; (5) joined Durham Master's swimming - I know this contributed to a 6 minute improvement; (6) HTFU - if you frequent you know what this means, (7) a good bike fitting - Victor ( hooked me up nice.

If anyone is considering their first or next IM, I definitely recommend IM Wisconsin. The crowds are nothing short of amazing and the bike course went through some beautiful farming areas.

Oh one funny thing I almost forgot, at the awards ceremony the men's winner is from Germany and he struggled a bit w/ his english. During his speech he commented about the beauty of Madison, the people, and then he said in a strong German accent, "oh, yea, the bike, oh yea f**king hard". You should've seen Mike Reilly's face, everybody cracked up.

By the way, my Fleet Feet jersey is da bomb. When you wear that thing you're always going have people yelling "go Fleet Feet". Plus you see other athletes sporting FF jerseys from different parts of the country and you get some kind of connectedness. It was very cool.

I'm still wearing my IM bracelet. I think I'll wear it until it falls off.



Saturday, September 01, 2007

IMMoo Fo' Rizzle

But that is not what gives me the heart of Kunte Kinte
I'm tryina give us "us free" like Cinque
I can't stop, that's why I'm hot
Determination, dedication, motivation
I'm talking to you, my many inspirations
When I say I can't, let you or self down
If I were of the highest cliff, on the highest riff
And you slipped off the side and clinched on to your life in my grip
I would never, ever let you down
-Kayne West "Never Let Me Down"

I was in the car listening to the "Democracy Now" radio program and they were broadcasting from New Orleans for the 2nd anniversary of Katrina. One of the interviewees was dropping some heavy philosophy, on how she and the others from NO are survivors. She broke it down about how they tried to kill them w/ the floods, but they persevered. They abandoned them and left them to die, but they survived. Many lost everything, but they still have life.

And then what really got me was that she related her strength and the strength of the others to the strength of my forefathers and foremothers who survived the Middle Passage holocaust. She talked about how the DNA in her is the same of these people, so the floods couldn't kill her and the rest of NO. Her blood is from the stock of ancestors of the historical survival test, these people who couldn't be killed.

That got me to thinking, like Kayne said, I've got "the heart of Kunte Kinte". My coach John Hirsch put me to the test this year. He helped me to believe that I could survive the workouts. I owe that brotha big gratitude. J, its on now, time to put it down w/ a vengeance.

I trained my ass off. I survived. The month of August was the hottest in the history. I survived. I did century rides in the mountains, not hills, but mountains of NC and Virginia. I survived. One of my bricks was a hard 4 hour ride w/ a 2 hour brick and the high that day was 95. I survived.

So when I wake up on 9/9, I will be ready. I will leave it all on the course. There will be no fear. I cannot be killed. I have the DNA of survivors from the Middle Passage. There will be no fear of the water. I will bike w/ a passion. I will run strong. I will finish. I will be an Ironman.