Friday, November 14, 2008

Book Review: Dean Karnazes - 50/50

Since ironman is over and I've had some free time, I got around to finishing another good book. So its time for another book review. I just finished "50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days- and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance!" by Dean Karnazes w/ Matt Fitzgerald. One of my co-workers just ran his first marathon, the City of Oaks here in Raleigh, and he let me borrow it. This turned out to be a really good read. I had actually went saw the documentary earlier this year about the 50/50 challenge so I was eager to read the book.

For those who don't know about Dean Karnazes, he's maybe one of the most prolific ultra-marathon runners on the scene today. The 50/50 refers to Dean's attempt to run 50 consecutive marathons in 50 consecutive days. His book chronicles this journey. The writing flowed really good and it was a fast read. I won't give away the ending about whether he met the challenge or not.

One of the big things I came away with from this book was how down to earth and "normal" Dean is, although he does some totally incredible things in terms of running. He talks about his family just like any regular dad, but he also does these amazing 100+ mile running races. Also there are also a number of practical tips/suggestions that he drops along the way for training and racing ultras & marys (mary is running geek short hand for marathon).

All in all this was a good book. In fact I might have to go out and get my own copy to keep around the house. Hopefully it'll come out on paperback.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

But it was 78 degrees

I was telling one of my buddies at work, we might not see another day like this until April. The high for the last 2 days was something like 76 and 78 degrees. I know I'm supposed to take 2 weeks and do nothing, but I couldn't resist.

I got in a couple of real easy rides last Thursday and Friday. The sky was so blue, the leaves are right around peak color, it even seemed like the drivers were friendly. I discovered something too. Slow easy rides are really nice. Gotta do that more often.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

B2B = 35 Minute PR!

The soreness in my legs is almost dissipated now from the Beach2Battleship race. I had a PR of 35 mins from last year's IM Wisconsin race! I guess its easy for me to recommend this race since it went so good for me, but if anyone is looking for an indy iron-distance event, B2B is a good one. But you'll have to sign-up quick. It sold out in something like 12 days for this year's event, and I suppose once the word gets out, the 2009 event may sell out even faster.

As you can tell I was all nervous before this race. My mentality was swinging from freaking out to being in some kinda nirvana-calm in the days leading up to the race start. I don't know why my state of mind this year was so much different than IMMoo from last year. Since the race was here in NC, there were some folks I knew racing. In fact, 3 folks from Campus Hills pool here in Durham were racing also. 2 of them were on my master's swim team.

I didn't sleep much the night before the race. Maybe I got 3-4 hours of on and off sleep. So I got up, tried not to make too much noise and wake up Lisa and started my nutrition. I thought about what Coach J said about upping his calories race morning at IMLou so I took ~ 1000 calories, consisting of 2 bottles of hi-protein Boost, a bagel w/ honey, 2 bowls of oatmeal w/ peanut butter, and orange juice. I was topped off good, did some stretching, grabbed my bags and headed to T1 where we boarded buses to the swim start.

One of the most fun parts of the race for me was the swim. The swim is a beach start that is held in the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway at Wrightsville Beach with a date/start time that captured the peak flow for the incoming tide. The start coincides w/ the sunrise and the beauty of seeing the sky transition from orange to dark blue on the horizon almost takes your breath away. I did a really short dip in the water to get acclimated, then we headed into the start corral for a prayer prayer and the national anthem. To be honest, I don't even remember the start gun going off, but the next thing I knew I was in the washing machine of a ironman swim start. I swam 55:22 which is bananas. To put it in perspective, I swam a 1:18 at IM Wisconsin last year. It was like swimming in a river. The water was kinda cold at 68, but once you got going it wasn't too bad.

After a good T1 it was off on the bike leg. Let me back up one minute, here's a tip I used that helped; I left a pair of running shoes near the swim exit so I wouldn't have to run barefoot to T1. It was about a 300 yard run and that made it much more comfortable. I had a 6:32 transition and some people in my age-group were as high as 14 minutes. One other tip too. The air temps were in the 40's so it was cold once you got out of the water. I was talking w/ my buddy at the athlete's meeting on Friday and he told me about putting newspaper in your tri top for the bike to keep your torso warm. If you watch the Tour de France on some of the climbs you'll see riders stuff paper in their jerseys at the summit. This buffets the cold air on the descent from chilling them.

The bike went really good for me also. It was cold for the first half, but there was maybe only 1-2 mph winds so it was easy to control pacing. I went w/ my disc wheel and that works good in low wind conditions. I tried to keep my effort down a bit and keep my ego in check to not surge when someone would pass me. I kept up some ol' school tunes in my head, like "Funky Nassau" and Curtis Mayfield's "Move On Up" to stay motivated. Also I thought about my niece and her recovery/healing. I would tell myself be strong, be an inspiration for her. If I can do this race she can get well.

The bike course is pretty much pancake flat on country roads that were for the most part nice and smooth. Since there were only 500 participants I had long stretches of solitude where there were big gaps between riders. The thought crossed my mind that this is how ironman should be, just the athlete and the road, just putting out a strong effort. The big ironman races are one thing, but it was nice sometimes not seeing other riders for as far as you could see in front of you.

I felt pretty good and picked up the effort a bit in the second half after it warmed up. The newspaper in my tri top worked good. In fact I didn't throw it away until around mile 75. Another Coach J tip I used was to put 2 cans of flat Red Bull in my bike special needs bag and that gave me some good energy for the 2nd half of the bike. I ended up w/ a 5:40 bike split (19.8 mph).

Nothing special about T2. But here's another tip I used. I put BodyGlide, liberally on my toes when I changed socks in T2. I sometimes get blisters and this helped to alleviate that. I ended up w/ one small blister, but it didn't impact my performance.

The run was tough though. The course follows 2 loops of the Wilmington 1/2 marathon and there are 3 bridge crossings that took a bit out of me. I probably overcooked the bike a bit too and paid the price on the run. I ended up w/ a 4:25 marathon (10:07 pacing). Before the race one of my goals was to run the whole marathon, but it wasn't happening that day. Also I think I made a mistake of taking on too many calories on the bike and it was difficult to keep fluids down on the run. I would drink something, run a few yards and some of it was come back up. I think my stomach wasn't absorbing a much after the bike. I did feel better as the temps went down for the 2nd half of the run though and my stomach issues dissipated. I kept up a mantra on the run, "be a hero today". I got that from reading a section out of Dean Karnazes 50 marathons book.

All in all it was a very good race for me. I ended up finishing at 11:10! That was good for 6th out of 47 in my age-group (45-49). Earlier this season, I was somewhat worried, since I wasn't getting the results I was hoping for at races. I was doubting my fitness and struggled to find my confidence. My coach kept telling me, late season IMs are tricky since you don't want to peak too soon. It was tough to stick to his guidance, when my buddies were killing me on group rides during the summer and I was still in base training mode. But it worked out good since the race turned out so good, especially on the bike. I told Lisa to never let me sign up for another one of these things at the finish, but now a few days later who knows...

Now its time to chill, get a few things done around the house and think about next year. I may stick to some shorter stuff in terms of triathlon, but I do want to try an ultra-marathon next year.