Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tax Time

You know how it goes, the mechanic has the worst running car, the carpenter's house needs the most repairs, and the accountant who files his taxes at 8:00 PM on April 30th. You may not have heard about the last one, but guess who just finished and filed his taxes, Joseph G. Power, CGA, MBA, CPA!!! Yes I am the accountant who waits to the very last minute to frantically get those taxes off to the government. Damn, I hate doing them. I hate it even worse when I have to pay the MAN!!! At least it is done for another year and I have 364 days to plan how to not make this happen again next year.
On the good news side, I finally splurged and bought a pair of the Newton running shoes. I tried them last year in Cour d'Alene and was intrigued but couldn't part with the money. I saw them again this year in Arizona, and again, couldn't part with the money (see I am an accountant!!). However, I had been looking at them on their website and finally decided to break the bank and buy them. If you check out the website you can see what their claim to fame is. There is a bit of an adjustment period with them but since I run on my forefoot I am not expecting too steep a curve.
As I start into a new phase of training I am going to try and become a little more disciplined with a few things. The biggest one is spending more time stretching. I stretch, but still not enough, and I need to spend the time after workouts to properly treat my muscles and tendons.
The other thing is I need to follow my running program a little closer and put a little more effort into some of my workouts. As I worked on other areas of my training I kind of let the running slip knowing that it is my strongest event. However, I still need to work at it and if I have designs on running a decent marathon this year it will take a little more effort.
This week I have started the training for a summer time half ironman. So far this week I have swam twice, 2,100 metres on Monday and 1,650 today, and two runs of 6.5 miles and 6 miles respectively. The legs are still a little cranky, but after a warm up, they seem to be okay.
I have introduced more drills into my swimming already as well. Back to some of the basic drills that I learned in the Total Immersion program which I had stopped doing. They are critical to good form but tend to get forgotten as you try and start picking up the metres.
Hope you have your taxes done!!!
Pictures from Ironman Arizona are located here. Bib #1635
Have a great day!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Reflections and Thanks!

Yesterday when I went to go for a run it was my first time since IMAZ that I have used my Garmin. Lo and behold when I started it up the mileage ticker on the bottom showed 138.0 miles even. That means that the sucker was within .2 miles for the 140.6 distance. Considering I didn't use it in the swim which was 2.4 miles, that is pretty darn accurate.
After resetting it, I went for a nice easy 10 miler, OUTSIDE, which has not happened in quite some time. The weather has been brutal, but yesterday it appeared that we have finally got spring happening. The temperature was around 13 C with a light north westerly wind. I chose the road out toward the old Entrance Airport as it is relatively flat and there are a large number of game trails which you can follow. As it was I pretty much stuck to the road to avoid getting muddy. Running when you are not training with a specific event in mind is very relaxing and the miles just ticked by like nothing. This was not work at all.
So in the end I managed a nice 10 mile run in just over 1 hour and 11 minutes. Not bad for a recovery run!
After seeing my time and distance on the Garmin yesterday I got a little reflective on the race that was. It was without a doubt a great day and an amazing experience. I was pleased with how it went and I know my plan, with some minor tweaks, is sound and I would use it again.
But all the training and planning is nothing unless you have support in your efforts, and that I do have. My wife, Angela, still shakes her head when she sees me sweating it out on the trainer for the 4th hour, or sees another credit card statement with a $600 charge for entry fees. Yes, triathlon is not cheap! Between entry fees, accessories, shoes, travel, the costs mount pretty quickly, but I would say it is all worth it. But in the end Angela is my biggest supporter and she will endure the 62 hours of driving to make sure that she was there for me at the end. You can't beat that now can you!
My two kids also think I am a little on the extreme side. But they also follow my training and racing and check the race results to see how the crazy old dude is doing!
Also all the people who read and comment on my blog, your advice and encouragement definitely helps and I really appreciate it.
So it is time to move on and start training for the 1/2 Iron Man in Sylvan Lake. I am going to download a new training plan today and start the journey. Come along for the ride!
Have a great day!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Very Busy Week

This past week has been an extremely busy one, with limited time available for training.
However, I did manage to swim twice, run four times and bike once, so it wasn't a week of nothing. The workouts have been low key as I just contiue to recover and think about what I do next. It seems when you have a certain level of fitness you want to use it. Unfortunately, it is still early as far as the triathlon season, and there are not a whole lot of events right now. The weather has also been less then co-operative and we have had snow just about every day since we got back from Arizona. The hope had been that when we got back, spring would be in full swing up here, but that has not been the case. This weekend we are starting to see a glimmer of hope that spring may actually come.
Work has been crazy as I have had two of my key people recruited away to other companies. With the economy of Alberta being so hot, and the shortage of professionals, it is difficult to keep your people. In addition, the forestry business is not the easiest to attract people to, so we have our challenges trying to bring in new talent. So I have been very busy, trying to cover off the extra duties as well as look after my own stuff.
In the month of April I have put over 15,000 kms on my vehicle and this week I contributed by making two trips into Edmonton. Wednesday we were in to pack up Francesca and bring her home for the summer. She is now finished year two at the University of Alberta and I can still hardly believe how quickly it has gone. She did extremely well again this year, but was happy to come home for the summer and get looked after by Mom and Dad. We are very fortunate in that she has a great summer job working at the pulp mill and makes very good money.
Then, yesterday I had to make another trip in as Francesca was flying to Vancouver to visit a friend for a few days prior to starting work. So that will mean I will have to go back and pick her up on Tuesday. Lots of travel, but I don't mind.
In the upcoming week I hope to start sorting out my training plans again and get back to work. My recovery went excellent and I really suffered no lasting issues from the race. I am keen to get going again and have a couple of events in my sights. The weather also appears to be taking a turn for the better so with any luck more of my riding can happen outside.
Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What to do next?

Now that I have come down from my post-race euphoria, it is time to think about what is next on the agenda.
IMAZ was an incredible experience and I just have to do it again. I didn’t sign up when I was there since I was unsure of whether or not it would be something I would like to do again. But now I know I would like to give it another go, possibly in November 2009.
Up next is going to be our own local triathlon in June. I am leaning towards the sprint distance just because I have never done it. Also since the swim is a pool swim I really want to spend as little time as possible in the water. It is usually a crowded swim and I just don’t like it.
Then there is an Olympic distance race in Cranbrook, BC, on June 15th. This looks like a great race and I love the area. I did a ½ Iron Man there two times already and it was a good event. The swim was a little chilly, even with a wet suit and a couple of bathing caps. But the bike ride was a beautiful course, almost to the point of being distracting. I would find myself spending time admiring the scenery instead of focusing on the ride on more then one occasion. That isn’t really a bad thing, but it is not conducive to good bike splits!
And in July I have already signed up for a ½ Iron Man in Sylvan Lake, AB which is about an hour north of Calgary. It is another good course, flat bike ride and a fairly well-shaded run. Last year I did a 5:13 there on the basis of a pretty good run split.
So I think I have enough to keep me motivated for awhile. I have recovered exceptionally from the Iron Man and have been back in the pool, on the bike and on the road.
Today I swam 1,900 metres in 40:10 and then did a 45:00 run this evening. On Sunday I did a short ride, 11.5 miles and on Saturday I ran 6.5 miles. Gradually I will get myself back into the swing of things, but nothing too drastic. My level of conditioning now leaves me pretty much "race ready" for the upcoming season and it will be a matter of tuning up for each of the scheduled events.

Have a great day!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Run

I hand my bike off to the volunteer and make the wobbly dash over to the bike to run rows of bags. I know that my transition bag is at the back of the row and it doesn't take me too long to find it. Into the transition tent I go and find a seat to start switching from bike gear to run gear. With shaky hands, I get my helmet, gloves and cycling shoes off and into the bag while I pull out my running shoes and hat. The only other thing to add is my fuel belt and I am off on the run. As I go to exit transition I am stopped by a volunteer who says I need more sunscreen and she begins to just plaster me with the stuff. Finally after 5:34 in transition I'm on my way. We exit out onto the pathway along the lake and I can already feel the heat radiating up through the pavement to my feet. However, I am surprised at how strong my legs feel. They have come right back to me and I start trying to settle into some sort of a run rhythm. My pace is erratic to say the least as in the first 800 metres I have been everywhere from below 6 minute miles to 9 minute miles. This would be my struggle over the first part of the race. I just can't seem to find a comfortable pace.

On the run there are aid stations every mile. I had consumed every bit of nourishment I had on the bike so I need to start getting some calories back into me. At the first station I grab water, Gatorade, and some cookies. My plan is to shuffle through the aid stations and get the stuff into me. I find no problem getting going again and I continue on. I am still struggling with pacing as I find I am way too slow or way too fast. This continues for the next 3 aid stations and then by mile 5 I finally start to find a bit of a groove. Unfortunately it is way slower than I expected and I am starting to feel some incredible tightness in my quads. So this is the way it is going to be.

The course loops around the lake, goes through the transition area, and back out across the lake and through a number of paths on the other side. Each loop was roughly eight miles or so and before long I have one under my belt. By this time I have accepted that I am not going to have any great time on the run, but I'm fine with it. I do know that I am going to finish and that I will still have a good time. So the march from aid station to aid station continues. Loading up with food, drinks and sponges to try and keep myself cool. By now there are groups of athletes walking together just trying to get through this. On the second lap I am starting to not be able to run from station to station but I continue to pick points to run to and I am at least staying disciplined enough to do that. The heat is really getting to me and on a few occasions I feel a little light headed. At the next aid station I spend a little more time dousing myself with water to cool the exterior and also loading up with some Gatorade. I continue to take my thermolyte capsules but they are melting in the pocket of my Fuel Belt and are all stuck together.

On the second lap I have gotten even slower. The whole run is going downhill faster than an episode of Jerry Springer, but I am going to hang in there. There are a lot of people thinking about quitting now. Angela told me about one guy who was walking back towards transition as he was obviously set to call it a day. She said a volunteer hopped out onto the course and put his arm around the runner."You can do this buddy", he is telling the guy. "Even if you walk the whole thing you will still make the cut-off". As he is telling him this, he is gently turning him the other way and the athlete is soon headed the right way again and starts back off. These volunteers are incredible.

At the twelve mile mark I finally see Angela. This is the first time that I see her even though I have been getting cheering all day from the thousands of spectators on the course. At the Ironman races they put your name on your bib and the people are very good about calling out to you by name. It is a nice touch and really personalizes the cheering. When I see her she is somewhat surprised that I am only part way through lap 2 as she had saw me get off the bike.

Now I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know the last loop will be a battle but I am prepared for it. Each mile is getting me closer and other than a blister on my right heel and the crazy heat I am feeling okay. At mile 16 I see a fellow athlete being scraped up off the pavement and put into an ambulance. I can't imagine coming all this way and not being able to get the last little bit done. But on a day like this, it is out of your control in some instances.

As the sun starts to set there is a sense that it is cooling off a bit. Not a lot, but a bit! Temperatures today have exceeded 95 degrees farenheit! It has been a scorcher for sure. When I get to mile 20 I can't believe I still have 10 kilometers to go. I am really digging deep to play some mind games to get through this last part. I am now running by my watch, run 5 minutes, walk 1, and walk through every aid station. Mile 22 passes through the transition area and has the largest concentrated area of spectators so I manage to run through this area and keep a smile on my face. The last 4 miles are better than the first half of the lap. My legs are really tight now but at least I am able to keep up a shuffle for longer periods of time. As I come back over the bridge for the last time I can see the long path down the side of the lake that will take us through to the finish. There is a good downhill, and then it is flat right on through to the end. The last mile meanders through the cheering crowds and there are lots of them. The little kids are up against the fence as you make your way to the Ironman "inflatable" and they hold out their little hands for you to high five them. This is what it is all about! I hear Mike Riley announcing each name as they pass through, "Joseph Power, from Hinton, Alberta, Canada. You are an Ironman!"

Wow! It is over. I did it again! The feeling is overwhelming. The volunteers bundle you up, give you your medal, hat, and the coveted T-Shirt!

Angela is there to greet me when I get out of the finish area. It has been a long, tough, but rewarding day. I am pleased with my time of 13:10:34. It is slower than Couer d'Alene, but I still feel happy with how I executed my plan under these conditions. As we pack up my stuff and head back to the hotel I am already thinking about doing another one. What is wrong with me!

Have a great day!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Supplementary Post - Recovery

The race recovery has gone well considering we hopped in the truck on Monday after the race and drove 14 hours to about 120 miles north of Salt Lake City. Then the next day we completed the journey and arrived home at 12:45 a.m. Only ill effects were some swollen ankles.
Wednesday I was back to work and Thursday I swam 1,500 metres and did an easy 30 minute run. Legs feel awesome! Yesterday I did another 1,650 metres in the pool and a 33 minute run last night.
Also I signed up for the Sylvan Lake 1/2 Iron Man in July. That was a great race last year and I was just out of the age group prizes. So I will take another shot at that.
Overall though, I am feeling great with the exception of the peeling skin from the wicked sunburn!
Have a great weekend!

The Bike Ride

Once you finished the swim you had to come out of the water via a set of very steep metal stairs. By the end of the swim your legs are like rubber, so this was going to be a bit of a chore. But, there at the bottom of the stairs, were our heroic volunteers, who pulled you up, got your hands affixed to the railing and literally pushed you up them. From there it was to the "strippers", to get your wet suit removed. These folks are professionals! With a tug like a magician pulling a table cloth out from underneath a set table, the suit is off you and in your hands. At this point your head is still a little fuzzy and it seemed difficult to get focused. I'm almost thinking I need to start wearing contacts or something as it took me awhile to get my eyes focused and I was just running with the crowd not really being able to see where I was going. From there it was a couple hundred metre run to get your swim to bike bag. I found my stuff quickly and hustled off to the tent to get my biking gear on. The tent is full at this point and I stood around trying to find a seat before I started dressing standing up. Helmet, socks, shoes, glasses, more sunscreen, load up my pockets with gels, grab my cycling gloves and I'm off to the bike racks. Row 40, far end of the row, is where my bike is located and I run a little awkwardly as it is not the easiest to run in these shoes. From the rack I have only 60 metres or so to the mount line and before you know it I am on the bike and wheeling out onto the course. T1 was 7:09 which was over 3 minutes faster than last year.

If you will remember from my previous blogs this was to be my first ride outside since October 2007 and I must admit I was a little concerned about whether the trainer would have sufficiently simulated the road and also the fact that there are riding skills that just don't get practiced on a trainer. My first of the fears was eliminated almost immediately as I found myself cruising up a slight grade into the wind at over 30 km/hr and my legs were feeling like I was sitting on the couch! This is great I thought as it was my target pace and the wind seemed quite light at this point. Unfortunately things were going to change soon and I would get into the grind for the next 6 plus hours!

The course meandered through some built up areas and then you found your way out to the desert. Now the wind was blowing full force directly into your face and my speed dropped to between 24 and 26 km / hr. I realized I was going to have to get into my small chain ring and probably around 17 - 19 on the back. No use trying to hold a big gear and trash the legs. As it was my legs were feeling just excellent.

Right from the start I was carefully monitoring my intake of fluids, calories and electrolytes. It didn't feel too hot on the bike as the wind somewhat cooled you, although it did feel like someone was blowing a hair dryer in your face! The nutrition plan was to drink my two bottles of Carbo pro during the course of the ride, a few bananas, gels and I had filled my special needs bag with a bagel, some Reese's snacks and some pretzels. I would get these at the half way point. Unfortunately with the onset of the heat, the drinks were warm and didn't taste too great but I knew that was my fuel and they had to get consumed. In addition I was taking two thermolyte capsules every hour to get my electrolyte levels up. Amongst all this I had water in my between the bars bottle, and Gatorade on my front cage. So I was loaded up with everything I needed and I was watching my time to ensure I took something every ten minutes.

Once we got out in the desert we had a long hill to climb to one of the turnarounds. Even on the first loop my back was starting to ache and I got out of the aero position to do the climbs. At the turnaround there was an aid station where I grabbed water, bananas and a power bar. From here there was a long section where the wind was at your back and I went back into the big chain ring and my 13 on the back and started hammering. It was great as my speed jumped up to between 45 - 49 kms / hr. Now this is more like it! Unfortunately it was short lived and before long we were back into cross winds as we made our way back to Tempe to the turnaround and the start of loop 2. Going through the crowds was a lot of fun and they were a very enthusiastic bunch. It was also amazing the amount of police officers along the course who were directing traffic and ensuring that no motorists strayed out amongst the cyclists. These guys are decked out in full State Trooper gear standing in the heat and encouraging us on. That couldn't be too comfortable.

Onto lap 2 and it was virtually a carbon copy of lap 1 with the exception that now the heat is beginning to take it's toll and people are starting to drop out. As well the flats and mechanical issues are becoming an issue with quite a few riders on the sides of the roads doing repairs. I have my fingers crossed that I am not going to have to get off and repair a flat. My major issue happened the day before when my bike computer crapped out totally. When I assembled my bike prior to the race, I had noticed that the computer seemed to be acting a little weird. Initially I thought it was just misaligned sensors from having had everything all apart but then it was giving error messages and suddenly flipped to German. So I figured that it was a battery and got a new one. Once I installed the new battery the frickin' thing wouldn't work at all! I brought it to one of the technicians in the bike transition area who worked on it for awhile before pronouncing it hooped! Damn it! This is not what I wanted a day before the race. The options are to go without or try and get another one and install it. I went with option 2 and bought a $60 model without cadence and put it on using my existing sensors. So that was my panic before the race.

Here I am prior to race day contemplating my options.

Back to the race. By now things are becoming robot like, drink, take my capsules, eat, up and stretch, back down and focus. My back is really beginning to tighten and I am having to really contort myself to get it stretched and relieve some of the pressure. After the turn we pick up our special needs bags. The bagel tastes good even though it is just plain. It feels like normal food. I stuff the pretzels in my back pocket and leave the Reese's snack as they are a melted blob and will do nothing but make me a sticky mess. Once I leave the special needs bag area I get right back on pace as this is the down hill, wind at the back, section. Within two minutes, the pretzels I am looking forward to, go flying out of my pocket onto the road. I am not stopping at 45 km / hour to turn around and go back.

One more loop through town and now it is the final lap!

By this time the heat has started to hit me. Even through my sun glasses I can see my thighs are a bright red. This is going to hurt tomorrow. But more than that I am getting a slight headache and I am concerned that I might be starting with a heat problem. More fluids, more fluids, more fluids! I grab stuff at every station and refill everything I have. My back is killing me but I only have one more loop. Stay focused and you will make it.

Every once in awhile I shake out my hands and even take my feet out of the clips to get some blood flowing through them. My new saddle has been very comfortable and nothing down there has gone numb yet. Again that is a good thing! On this loop I am seeing people laid out on the side of the road. At pretty much every aid station there are a few cyclists who appear to have packed it in and there are a lot of folks coughing up their cookies! It is now getting close to 2:30 PM and it is just smoking hot!

Once I make the turn to head back to Tempe for the final time, I am still surprised with the good legs I still have. I pound down the fast section again and then settle in for the last few miles. I am thankful that I have had no issues on the course and at this point I am feeling confident that I have good legs for the run. Once we turn into the transition area the riders stay in single file and wait for a volunteer to grab your bike.

As soon as my feet hit the ground my legs feel like spaghetti! This is normal I say to myself, your going to be fine, or will I...................

Have a great day!

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Swim

Things are finally settling down after a hectic week of travel and getting back to work so I thought I should fill you in on the details of the race.

After a relatively sleepless night I finally got out of bed at 4:30 AM on race day. Despite the lack of sleep I was charged and ready to go.

After a quick shower, I had a 20 ounce bottle of carbo pro and a plain bagel. I never eat too heavy and I just wanted to have something in my stomach to start the day. Then I packed up the remainder of my equipment. I only had to get together my swim stuff and dry clothes for after the race as everything else was packed up and delivered to the transition zones the previous day. Then it was off to the race site which was about a 10 minute drive away.

Once at the race site, I put my nutrition requirements on the bike and added a few other items to my transition bags. Then I got through the body marking section. By now it is only 5:30 AM so I still have a lot of time to kill until start time which is 7:00 AM. The transition zones are filled with nervous racers checking and re-checking their equipment as well as the panic striken folks who realize they have forgotten something important. The volunteers are incredible and are great about getting people help and settling them down.

For the next little while I just laid on the grass in a quiet spot and relaxed. Amazingly the time went by quickly and before long they are making the call for the pro's to get into the water for their start at 6:45 AM. It doesn't seem that long, and then they are calling the age grouper's into the water. So it's time to get into my wet suit and head to the water.

IMAZ is a water start, which means there is no mad run from the beach into the water. We will all be in the water when the gun goes off. It feels great to jump in the water as it finally feels like things are going to start happening. We have about a 100 metres to swim from where we get in to where the race actually begins. I am one of the first in the water and I swim easily up to the front of the line. There is a great place underneath the bridge to wait so I climb up there and just watch the huge numbers of people splashing around making their way to the start line.

When the gun goes off I am determined to swim a little more aggressively and fight for my space. Because I started up closer to the front I am surprised at how quickly I find a decent place to swim and I settle in very quickly. Lake Tempe is man made and is built more like a canal than a lake. It has a concrete edge around and that made swimming in a straight line a whole lot easier. With this a a boundary I just had to ensure I was keeping the same distance from the edge at all times. Also you couldn't miss the turnaround because it was after you passed the second bridge so all those things eliminated the need for a lot of spotting and I could just focus on smooth swimming. Right from the start I settled into a good pace and my stroke was very even and efficient. I was staying with a pack of swimmers who were just in front of me so I was able to draft. At the turn I still felt great and after a kick in the head from a girl in front of me and then a whack in the side of the head from another one, we were on the way back. I knew that I was putting together a good swim because I just seemed to be staying in a great rhythm. I was not tiring at all so I was feeling quite confident that this was going to be a good swim as it was I ended up 10:19 faster than the previous year.

So that was the swim portion. Up next is the 112 mile tour of the desert.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Quick Race Report....more to follow

Where do I start?
I could give you the Master Card synopsis,
62 hours of driving,
6,500 kilometres,
2.4 miles of swimming,
112 miles of biking in the desert against the wind,
26.2 miles of hot pavement,
one wicked sun burn,
finishing IMAZ…….priceless!!!
And indeed it was priceless to finish this race.
Was I disappointed with my time? Not in the least. April 13 was not a day to try and be a hero. It was truly an exercise in adapting to some extreme conditions, putting all my training and mental strength to use, and hanging on for dear life!
When I reflect back on the day, I am extremely satisfied with my performance despite being 8 minutes slower that last year. My swim and bike portions were considerably better, and my best event, the run, was my downfall. But there was nothing that could be done about that unless I wanted to risk not finishing. And not finishing is just not an option. I have no DNF’s on my resume and I don’t intend to have any if I have any choice in the matter. On another day, under different conditions, I would have run at least a 3 hour and 30 minute marathon given my current fitness. So then my 13:10 time becomes an 11:40 overall time, which would have been outstanding! But that was not the case.
With temperatures where they were, 34 C and strong winds, my game plan altered right from the get go. There was no way I could have prepared for those conditions, so I got myself in preservation mode right from the start. As Mike Riley and Paula Newby-Fraser said the most important thing to bring with you on race day was your brain and a great attitude, and I think I managed to do that.
Since I got back last night at 12:45 a.m. I am not quite totally with it so this post is just to let you know I appreciated the support throughout the training and race day. It is awesome to know that you have people rooting for you. Anyway I will follow up over the next few posts with race details and lots of pictures!
Have a great day!

Friday, April 11, 2008

I'm in Phoenix

We arrived in Tempe last night at 6:00 p.m. after a 30 hour journey. It was a great trip but we never got to any warm weather until we arrived in Las Vegas. Today it is beautiful and I am getting ready to go to the registration and practice swim.
I am a little stiff from the drive but nothing that a swim and a run won't fix.
Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Journey begins

A journey of a 1,000 miles starts with a single step, or in my case a journey of 1,963 miles begins with a single step.
Today is the day that we hit the road. Right after lunch we should be headed off to Phoenix.
Thanks for all the well wishes. It is much appreciated! You can check my progress on, my bib # is 1635.
I have had a couple of days of tune ups over the last few, a 14 mile run, 20 mile ride, and today I did a quick 1,000 metre swim in just under 20 minutes to rid myself of some nervous energy. I'm not sure if I will be able to post while I am away but if the opportunity presents itself I will provide an update.
Have a great day!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Waiting Game

It's all done! My fate is sealed. Now I just wait, and wait, and wait.
Last week was not quite as much of a taper as probably I should have as I finished the week with just over 10 hours and 30 minutes. However, with the travel next week I will get lots of rest for the legs.
Generally, I feel really good right now. No aches or pains and my workouts are just a matter of holding back the horses as I still want to go. Overall I am satisfied with the training as I look back on it. I sacrificed some runs in the interest of more cycling and I don't think that will hurt me but next Sunday will tell. Since November I have ran just under 1,000 miles, cycled 1,500 and swam about 60 miles. Before that I was in training mode as I had ran the Victoria Marathon in October so I have been at this for awhile.
Now I wait........

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Plan

The nervous energy is starting as race day gets closer. My mind continually wanders back to the race and how I plan to deal with the various situations that the day will present. It is unlike any other event due to the stresses and length of it. Your mental state goes through a wringer as you try and maintain focus and work within the parameters of the plan, which leads us to “The Plan”. While this may be seen as an exercise in futility (because it goes out the window with the crack of the starter’s pistol), you still have to do it.
The evening before the race is always a time of checking and re-checking equipment. Dinner will be light, nothing too spicy or with too much fibre. Then will be the attempt at sleep, which at the best of times is difficult, but further exacerbated by the anticipation of what lies ahead. Knowing full well ahead of time that sleep will be a challenge, I will try my best to get some naps in during the days before.
In the morning my plan will to get to the site as early as allowed. Breakfast will consist of some carbo-pro and a bagel, again trying to limit too much in my stomach to start the day. Once at the race site I will go through one more dry run of the transitions and make decisions about clothing and any other minor equipment choices. Then it is time to suit up and get ready for the swim!
The swim is an interesting phenomenon to witness. On the beach everyone is chatting and friendly. Once the gun goes off, it is a whole different story. People really fight for the space in the water and you risk life and limb! My preference has always been to line up on the outside and stay out of the main fray. On the turns I also stay wide and avoid the tangle of bodies as people try and cut the corner as sharply as possible. It will not make a whole lot of difference to my time, so I am better to find a spot where I can get my rhythm and settle in.
I will wear my one-piece tri-suit underneath my wetsuit to ensure a quick transition. Last year’s transition times were ridiculously long. This year I need to focus on getting on my horse and riding as these are easy minutes to pick up. Once at the bike it is a simple matter of loading up my pockets with supplies, putting on my helmet and sunglasses and wheel out of transition. My shoes will already be in the peddles so I don’t have a repeat of Sylvan Lake when I left my cleat protectors on my shoes and wondered why I was having trouble clipping in. Then I threw them on the side of the road and was very fortunate to retrieve them after the race!
On the bike it is all about a steady effort. I will have driven the course so that I am aware of turns, hills or any other things I should be aware of. The bike is long and really requires focus and discipline to ride within your abilities and fitness. The nutrition plan I have is tried and true so I will not tamper with it, other than I may take a bagel just for some substance. Bathroom breaks on the bike are a rather difficult decision for me. Last year I hit the porta-potties for relief and I expended a fair bit of time. The experienced racers utilize other techniques which I’m not sure I am ready for! Forty eight years of training not to wet myself is tough to break!
Off the bike, the transition again will be simple. Get the shoes changed, pick up more supplies and a hat and off I go. The first 300 metres will be against totally unwilling legs! This will be one of the many mental challenges as it seems like such an insane thing to do, run 26.2 miles after 6 – 7 hours on the bike!! But once you are through that it actually starts to become believable. IMAZ is a 3 loop course which I like. It will really eliminate a lot of mental gymnastics as I try and calculate split times. It will be easy to see what my splits are at every third of the race. The run is an exercise in hanging on and watching your energy levels. No sugar coating this baby, it is without a doubt the toughest part, and where the most of my mental preparations will have to kick in and take over. Last year I walked through most of the aid stations to make sure I ate and drank. I am going to try and get through them a little faster this year but not at the expense of looking after my fuel requirements.
So there you have some insight into “The Plan”. Execution will be a whole different matter, but at least you know there is a plan.
On the workout front, Sunday was a 60 mile ride and a good hard pace. I am having a little trouble with my chain after my tune-up as it is a little too loose. I am pretty sure I can adjust that myself.
Yesterday was a 2,450 metre swim and a 7.5 mile tempo run. Everything felt great.
Have a great day!