Friday, September 28, 2012

My Secret Race

-         I take oral injections daily of cottage cheese.  I’m not happy about it, but it’s what I have to do to compete.  And if you think about it, everyone else is doing it too so aren’t I just doing what it takes to hang with the rest of the competition?  I have to use code names for it because my wife and friends think it looks disgusting and I don’t like to gross them out.  I’ve called it clabbered up milk, pelican shit, or Scottish sheep.  That last one because it sounds similar.  Or just sheep for short.  I think Angie really knows what I’m doing when I say it, but it makes me feel like I’m pulling the wool over her eyes when I say things like, “I’m gonna go orally take in a sheep.”

-         I don’t do a whole sheep, because the glow period – the period at which people can physically catch you doing a sheep – lasts longer, so I microdose and get it out of my system quickly.  I do my sheep right before bedtime, and I love the feeling as I lay there in bed with the chill of the casein protein coursing through my veins.  I keep telling myself as I lay there, “If I’m microdosing on sheep, how many sheep are the other guys doing?” 

-         I’m amazed that some of my racing friends are so nonchalant about the way they store their cottage cheese.  I know one guy that keeps it right on the front of the top shelf of his fridge in the original container that it came in.  There it is with a big label, “100% Whole Milk Grade A Cottage Cheese.”  I mean, anybody could just walk in and open his fridge and they’d be like, “Whoa, wassup with this?!  You’re totally on the juice, man!”  That’s why as soon as I buy my cottage cheese, I take it out of the container and smear it into a white pasty pile on some aluminum foil and stick it behind some sodas in the back of the fridge.  Cuz, nobody likes leftovers in some grungy looking crumpled up aluminum foil.

-         I have a generator attached to my refrigerator in case the power goes out.  That way I can make sure that my cottage cheese is always kept chilled at the right temperature.  A lot of people don’t realize that those little lumps of white stuff are living tissue and they have to be kept refrigerated or they spoil.  They die.  A friend of mine once raced after bagging a bad sheep.  He won his race but he was never right after that.  I’ve heard of other racers hiring people to house sit when they go on trips just to make sure the power doesn’t go out and spoil their sheep.

-         I buy a carton of Silk chocolate soy milk every week and keep it in the fridge.  It looks just like something you would hide a bag of blood in, and if you picked it up and squeezed it you would think it even feels like a bag of blood inside.  I call it my BB, and it’s soooooo delicious.  Sometimes I pretend a racing friend looks in my fridge and sees it, thinking I’ll be swelled up like a dog tick with a BB in me for Lake Kristi.

-         There’s a phrase I used to hear when I first started racing…”wayvoseebacon.”  Sometimes it’s used in a derogatory manner like, “Man, I sucked at the Sunday Morning 10 Miler.  I was running wayvoseebacon.”  But sometimes it can be used almost as if they’re bragging: “I was flying at the Thursday Night World Championships and I was riding on wayvoseebacon!”  Then I realized the phrase is actually “juevos y bacon” – Spanish for “eggs and bacon,” meaning I only had eggs and bacon in me prior to the ride.  No cottage cheese.  I look back on when I used to race wayvoseebacon and I don’t know how I ever managed to finish races like that.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Outer Banks Half Ironman 2012

So, I won my first Half Ironman.  To be honest, I feel more than a little silly about that.  I finished in 4:37, and won by 7 minutes.  All this means is......a lot of really good athletes must have had mo' betta things to do.  And I'm cool with that.  Cuz, dammit, I won. 

 Carl likes it.

We were told there were 137 participants in the race.  Disappointing numbers considering they ran a beautiful full page ad in Triathlete magazine all year long.  But it is what it is. 

The swim looked a lot longer than 1.2 miles.  And the water off of Roanoke Island was a little bit choppy.  Not enough to be considered rough, but it did mess with your breathing pattern a little, and if this were your first open water swim it might have been a little frustrating.  They started the women and teams first, with all the dudes 3 minutes after.  I went ahead and seeded myself in the front with my training buddy, Carl Bonner, right next to me.  (Aside: this is Carl Bonner's first Half in, like, 10 years.  His wetsuit too, which looked tired and unprepared, and I was afraid it would come apart when he put it on.)  As soon as we started I noticed at least two guys shot out ahead of me.  I assumed there were perhaps a couple more on my blind side, but I just settled into a pace and, once I noticed my typical tendency to drift to the right, I started my usual chant of, "Veer.  Left.  Veer.  Left."  I caught almost all of the first wave by the first turn buoy, but could see a couple swimmers ahead by 50 yards or so.  At any rate, an uneventful swim, and I didn't feel like I was doing anything spectacular despite the 22,000 yards of training I had put in during the last two weeks.  When I got out of the water, though, I saw Angie and heard her say, "Really great job, honey!"  She said it as if I had done better than usual.  I wondered what she knew that I didn't.

 Trying to remember if this thing zips up or down to get off.

Taking off on the bike I noticed my right ass cheek was really sore, like someone had taken a sledge hammer to it.  I've felt that before and have no idea what that's all about.  It went away.  I wondered how far back I was from the front, and put my head down and just got into a good, hard rhythm.  I passed a relay team and 3 girls from the first wave before I got to the great big long bridge that takes you to the mainland and right into some heavy headwinds.  There's one thing about that bridge that I now immediately remembered from doing the sprint race here a couple years ago.  It has these massive metal teeth about 2" wide that separate each section for expansion, and you have to guide your bike right over a tooth pointing away from you or you're gonna take one right to your front tire.  It looked like the makings of a flat tire, and I wasn't carrying any repairs of any kind.  I passed two more relay teams on that bridge and then headed north on the mainland.  This section is flat and boring and you can see a huge distance up the road.  Nobody up there.  How far ahead are these guys, dammit?!  With a turnaround coming up, I started trying to pick out what few landmarks I could so I'd be able to get an idea of the time gap if I saw somebody coming the other way.  And then I was at the turnaround.....all by myself!  I yelled out to the volunteers, "Where is everybody?!?!"  I checked my watch and headed back south.  The next guy was 110 seconds back, and the next guys were a bit behind him.  Then there was Carl, who hollered something encouraging and I gave him a thumbs up.  At the next turnaround I had a 4 minute lead.  I was liking this!  And the guy in second looked a little muscular, as if maybe biking was his strength and he probably wouldn't be able to run me down. 

Coming back on the bridge with a tailwind is an awesome feeling.  30 mph and feeling like you've got no chain!  As I was coming into the first lap turnaround back at transition, I got real cautious.  The road had a lot of potholes, I already knew there was a turnaround to negotiate, and there was a car that might get in the way, lots of people, and it was a dumb spot for a water station.  I picked Angie out of the crowd, told her I loved her (I wanted everyone to know she was the wife of the dude winning!), and accelerated out of there.  I now had 7 minutes on 2nd place.  And I was acutely aware of one thing: the fatigue I often feel around mile 30 of a half iron doesn't exist when you do a half in the middle of Ironman training.  Awesome!  The first lap had gone down at an average of 24 mph.  I expected that to drop a little on the second lap and it did, down to 23.5 mph.  The wind had picked up noticeably on the bridge, and my back was getting a little sore.  It was great seeing Dr Bob, Katy, and Carl on that second loop, and the motivation from putting time on my nearest competitors kept my spirits up.

When I came into T2 it was pure mayhem.  All the things I had taken inventory of after the first lap were magnified by all the cyclists coming in for their second lap on top of the Olympic folks coming in to T2 with me.  I tried a flying dismount between two gals struggling to get off their bikes and nearly took us all out.  Then I tried to weave through some Olympic guys running with their bikes into T2 and nearly got taken out by one that couldn't keep his bike up.  My T2 attitude was much more relaxed than usual with the lead I had, so I sat down to put on socks (Noooooooo!!!).  I had a Red Bull there so I popped the top and tried to down some swigs as I started the run.  I took a second to actually open a trash bin and toss it in there despite the lady that offered to take it from me ("Wow, did you see that?  What a nice guy." as I tossed it away myself!).

 Heading out on the run course, with Cory the biker escort dude in front.

I had an escort biker on the run, since I was leading the race!  I gotta say this is the coolest thing.  And he was pumped about it!  He was hollering out to people, "I got the first half ironman right here!"  And then they'd look at me and barely clap.  "Yeah whatever.  Good job.  Yay."  These folks had already applauded 200 Olympic runners ahead of me.  His name was Cory, and I got the sense he was a talker if I had had the energy to converse.  He asked where I was from and maybe some other stuff I can't remember.  As we came up to the first water station he asked what I wanted.  "Coke."  No Coke. After that he asked if Pepsi was okay.  In my head:  Geeeeez!!!!!  This is no time for a Pepsi Challenge, I just want some caffeine!  After a nod, he went ahead to the next aid station and got a Pepsi ready.  A whole can of Pepsi.  I guess I just assumed a half iron race would have flat Coke at the aid stations.  I took a couple swigs but the bubbles weren't working for me and the whole thing went all over me anyway.  Cory said he had water and Gatorade on board if I needed it.  This escort thing was starting to prove a great advantage.  After that he asked what I wanted at the next station and I said water and Gatorade.  He was great as he zipped on ahead at each station and I could hear him directing where one guy should be with water and one should be several paces further up with the Gatorade.  He did this Every.  Single.  Aid.  Station.

I got a rush seeing Katy and then Dr Bob, just after he made the 10k turnaround of the Olympic course.  I hollered out and then told Cory that Dr Bob was the man.  Then there was that turnaround that Bob had just gone around, and beyond that was like this crazy void.  The rest of the Half Iron course, and for all I knew it looked like a barren wasteland that nobody had ever set foot on.  It was weird how there had been all these runners on the Olympic course and now all of a sudden silence.  Just me and Cory the bike escort dude.  I hit a low point at mile 5 and told myself to push through.  I had been running a 6:45 to 6:50 pace so far.  Perfect.  But there was something lurking from within that told me things were gonna go south.

I was still pumped up enough because I had my own turnaround to hit in another mile or so, and I wanted to see what the gap was on second place.  As soon as I turned I looked up the road and there was nobody in sight.  There was no way I was gonna get caught, but my pace had already slowed to over 7:00/mile.  By the time I met the 2nd place guy going the other way, I had over a 10 minute lead.  Doing great!  And I was on pace to go sub-4:30, which I would have told anyone before the race was not only the goal, but in my mind "easy pickin's" given the shape I thought I was in even without a proper taper for this race.  But just then I felt the wheels start to come off.  And it was totally mental and I knew it!  Everything was going just fine, but I just felt the will oozing out of myself.  Carl ran by somewhere around then and we high-fived and he told me I was rocking this thing, but I knew right then that was it.  That's the last bit of stimulation I get before the finish line.  I was now running all alone with no more feedback from time splits, no more friends to see on the course, nothin'.  And I hit a mental wall.  At mile 9 I started walking through the aid station (which as I had suspected, was shared with the 2nd place guy as he came around, giving him a little hope I'm sure) wondering what my problem was.  I got going again but my pace had slowed way down.  At least I wasn't panicking about getting caught.  I knew the lead was more than enough, but I was letting my goal slip away and it ate at me.  I decided to just be happy that I was moving, and now that I was back on the Olympic course I was passing stragglers from that race.  I gave encouragement to every one I passed, many of which were walking.  "Come on, I'm hurting too.  Let's do this!"  I know it got one of them running again at least.

 There is nothing like the sight of the finish line........!!!

Just prior to the finish I thanked Cory for his kind words and help out there.  I ran in and had just won my first Half Iron distance race!  That felt pretty good, but deep down I was horribly upset that I had fallen apart on the run.  My whole point of doing this race was to feel confident and on track for my training for Ironman Florida in November, but all I feel is way behind.  I have a tendency to get weak in the head and fall apart.  I guess that's something to work on.

I stuck around the finish line to shake hands with 2nd and 3rd place.  To me, that's important.  I cheered Carl in as he came in 5th place.  He's a good training buddy and lightened the mood of this trip a great deal, as anyone that knows him would expect him to do.

Katy, Carl, Dr Bob, and I after the finish.

To those of you that know you coulda kicked my butt out there, thanks for not showing up!  It was a fun race and a fun weekend.  I'm deeply humbled and sore all over. 

Richter, out.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ironman Florida 2012 Training: What's Different this Time Around?

1.    1.    I’m doing a lot of training with my long time buddy, Carl Bonner, who’s also training for his Ironman comeback at Florida.  Training with Carl is interesting.

2 Runners, 2 Cups.  Carl and I have never been accused of having a serious side.

He’s had a couple bad wipeouts in the past that were car related, including being hit by one during the Fiesta Biathlon.  As a result, he’s a little jumpier than the rest of us when we’re on the road.  We’ll be in the middle of a hard interval and I’m doing all I can do to maintain pace and we’ll come up on an intersection with no traffic coming either way.  I’ll yell, “CLEAR!” and motor through and then look back……there’s Carl stopped at the curb waiting for God knows what.  If we come up on a dog most of us cyclists just yell, “DOG!” and it’s up to you to take evasive action as you see fit, but you still gotta be aware of staying with the peloton.  But Carl’s protocol is to yell at the dog: “GAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!” By then we’ve put a gap on him and it’s just Carl and the dog blinking at each other.  I’m not sure what the dog makes of this but I bet it’s very entertaining for him. Carl also doesn’t like me running on the asphalt against traffic.  So running with him is like having a little bitty wife on your shoulder as a backseat driver.  But it’s all good.  He’s a great training buddy and doesn’t complain when I steer us onto extra crappy roads.  I often wonder if he’s more sensitive to that stuff since he’s a road/building civil engineer nerd.

Last Saturday we did a pretty tough 126 miler on the bikes.  Towards the end, poor Carl’s neck and back locked up like a Khia video.

His neck went out so bad when he got to my house and tried to make himself a sandwich he couldn’t look up on the fridge to see where the bread was!
2.    2.    I’m not as fixed on nailing the mileage according to plan, especially on the run.  I’ve been following the plan probably 98%, but if I feel like running less than the plan says than I cut out what feels right.  It might be smart training……then again, maybe it’s slackin’.  When I laid out my plan, I put every possible mile into training that I could anyway.  It looked good on paper.
3.      3.  I’m trying to bike more.  I felt like I didn’t get enough bike training in for IMCDA 2011 or St Croix 70.3 2012.  Both races I felt that those were my weak legs.  I’m trying to strengthen that for IMFL.  But fitting in more cycling when you’re already doing 22.5 training hours a week and trying to do your job…..well, it’s kinda tough.
4.     4.   I’m experimenting with Red Bull as a caffeine boost during my long workouts.  It sure feels likeI get a good kick in the balls after I chug one anyway.

At least, when I’m struggling during a long run it motivates me to know that this is at the next aid station…..

5.     5.   It’s not really something new that I’m doing, but this IM has a new vibe in that there are 4 of us Tricredible dudes doing this race: Carl, Bert, Kyle and me.  Carl and I train together a lot, so we know what each other is doing.  Bert and I compare notes constantly at work, and we meet for a few training sessions as well.  But Kyle’s under the radar.  We kid about it as if he’s training in secret.  We all wonder what he’s doing.  But it’s just fun to have buddies to compare notes and try to one-up each other on the training numbers and stuff.
6.   6.     I might be more paranoid about getting as much sleep as possible than I have been in the past.  I get antsy if I’m not in bed by 9, and after 9:30 I start to visualize myself turning into a pumpkin.  On Saturdays, after I’ve done my long brick and still have my long run to do early Sunday morning, I’m typically in bed, exhausted, by 7:30.  Minimum 8 hours of sleep per night, but more like 9 or 10 is what I’ve been getting.  At least I feel great in the morning and relish my free time with a cup of coffee prior to going to work.
7.     7.   I’m not focused on that Kona slot for this one.  Really I’m not.  In truth, I don’t think I’m good enough to snag it.  But I AM focused on killing it during this race, PR’ing the distance (this is my first flat course IM, so you’d think that would be an easy goal), hammering in training as best I can, and showing up on the start line in better shape and spitting more fire than I have before.  I have bad days and I have at least one a week where I just don’t wanna do this, but for the most part the gumption is there, and I want to show up at IMFL as if I may not do one of these ever again.  And I’m determined to keep Angie and mom waiting for me at the finish line much less than they have for the last 3 of these things.  Where that all gets me, I dunno.  I guess all I’m counting on is a finisher’s medal and hat and a well-deserved beer.

8.      What hasn’t changed: I’m still being anal about nutrition and weight.  For example, early in the week my dinners are usually more protein based (like salmon with a side of steamed veggies) and small portioned to keep the weight down and the recovery from the weekend’s efforts in motion.  I add a side of rice or pasta or something to my meals towards the end of the week to get some extra carbs in for the weekend workouts to come.  All alcohol is strictly verboten.  The weight I’m trying to maintain (160 or less) is hard enough without drinking, so I don’t need the empty calories.  Plus, it seems to mess with muscle recovery, and when I’m going as far as paying for recovery supplements and vitamins it seems kinda silly to waste that money by drinking at the same time.  I did indulge in a sip of beer Sunday night right before I poured it into a pot to make some French Onion soup though.  And.  It.  Was.  Delicious.  As for my weekly training routine, it’s pretty much the same as the last couple of events I trained for.  Frank Fisher turned me on to some of Joe Friel’s techniques – like biking a couple hours before the long run and some other stuff – but I haven’t figured out how to make the grand scheme fit around my work schedule so I’m sticking to what I know how to do for now.

That’s pretty much it.  To be honest, I’m amazed I’m as gung ho as I am for this race after putting a lot into the last Ironman and then again for St Croix earlier this year.  I don’t know where this energy comes from. The heat of the summer took a lot out of me as well, and made it hard to train and really tough to feel good about what training I was getting in since every mile I felt like a slug in the heat.  The cooler weather we’re having now is just what I need to kick up the gumption a few notches, and I’m looking forward to this Saturday’s Outer Banks Half Iron race.  More to come…..!

September Numbers So Far (9/19):
Hours Exercised: 47.72
Weight: 159.6 lb
Gumption: 96.3%
Bike Distance: 529 mi
Run Distance 105 mi
Swim Distance: 15 mi