Ironman and seeing the Southeast

Some things just don’t work out no matter how much we would like them to. Case in point, Saturday November 6 and Ironman. However, I have the distinct good fortune of being able to turn it around and learn from it and move on to the next thing. You see, I’m in it for the long haul and one setback, or in the case of Ironman in 2021, two setbacks, isn’t going to get me down.

In transition, before the swim, Ironman Florida

Saturday wasn’t my day in the water. The current took me off course and readjustments and waves made me swim 3 miles instead of 2.4. My swim speed wasn’t good enough to finish by the swim cutoff. I’ve never not made a cutoff in Ironman. My swim segments were always good. I’ve always felt good in the water and Saturday I still felt good. I can battle waves and jellyfish bites and current, I’ve just never been fast. With buoys moving and everything else, I just couldn’t cut it. It’s just such a bummer. 

I ended up cheering on Mark all day and he did great and finished. He did amazing. 

Mark at the finish

On the Friday before the race as we were hanging out in our beachside condo, Mark suggested coming back to Houston with him and joining him on this (boring) road trip on I-10. I totally read this as let’s stop in all the cool places along the Gulf on the way home. I looked at a map and we could go to: Mobile, Biloxi, Baton Rouge and New Orleans. I’m in. I immediately changed my flights from flying out of Panama City Beach to flying direct from Houston. 

I love going where I’ve never been and the southeast was completely interesting. We drove through a bit of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and southeast Texas. I’ve been to Jackson, Mississippi but all the other places were new to me. As we were driving Mark asked me how many states I’ve been to and I had not thought about it a long time. I am working on my marathons-in-every-state goal but didn’t know how many states I was missing from just seeing. I initially thought I had three left: Oklahoma, Arkansa and North Dakota. Later I realized I haven’t been to Michigan. So I have 4 states left. 

Biloxi
Bourbon St. New Orleans

I love traveling and seeing new places and that is what Ironman Florida was for me. I thought I wanted to stay extra days and sit on the beach and swim in the ocean, but I like to keep moving. Being able to pivot, roll with it, move on is my super power. 

What’s next: Tucson in December for my 55K race. I ran 20 hilly miles yesterday and gearing up for big miles. I can’t wait to see my friend Kassandra and the desert. Life is good – it’s just all perspective.

Ironman Timberman 2021 Race Report

Kristin and I attended the race meeting after Packet Pickup. We were really only concerned about where to park and how we could leave her car in Laconia overnight. All the racing logistics seemed normal and nothing to worry about. I didn’t study the courses; I never do, and this was a mistake.

Saturday was busy with driving and figuring out food and last minute packing for the race. I think I don’t spend a few days packing for race day because then I will really think about the race and I don’t want to. I want to race in the moment – I think this is a mistake in retrospect. Even after training and racing Ironman for 12 years I’m still learning and still fine-tuning my training and racing skills. I don’t ever want to go through the motions of training; I want to live every moment and be in the moment. I’m not sure this is a great strategy but it keeps me wanting more even if race results aren’t what I’d like to see. I still just love the sport. I love swimming. I love biking and I sometimes love running. Put them all together and that is just pure joy.

Here’s my race report. 

Swim – I opted to go without a wetsuit. I’ve been so hot the last few days and overheated in my wetsuit at Coeur d’Alene. I love just swimming in a lake. I realized that I was kicking more than normal and that might be problematic later, but I felt somewhat fast swimming. I didn’t accidentally swallow a ton of water. I didn’t get kicked in the face or gut. Win! I looked at my watch as I got out of the water: 50 minutes. Darn. I thought it would be faster and then jogged to transition. 

Bike – The first 25 miles I knew what to expect. Kristin and I biked most of it a few weeks ago. Some long ascents and descents. As I turned off the main road into (I think it was the town of Loudon or Canterbury) my saddle bag fell off. I stopped as soon as I heard it hit my tire, and I skidded a bit as it got stuck in my spokes. Crazy. I got off my bike and it took a few minutes to get it back on. That could’ve been really bad. I was now just hoping to finish safely. 

The last 25 miles were brutal. Steep climbs and crappy roads. The weather was perfect, though which got me through it. It was cloud cover all during the bike and somewhat cool. Climb after climb I was watching the miles and couldn’t wait to see 50. Then finally, the last climb and downhill on nice roads back into Laconia. I just wanted to be aero and go as fast as I could. 

Run – The run was my favorite part. I got to see parts of Laconia I’ve never seen and it was beautiful running around Lake Opechee and seeing Winnisquam from another angle. People sat on their porches cheering and it was just awesome! The rain started on my run and kept me cool. Aid stations were great and the volunteers simply amazing. As I got to the second loop I was excited for another look at the lake. The course was relatively flat with gentle uphills and downhills. I really loved the run into downtown. 

Kristin finished before me and we got our photo taken at the finish line. It was a good day! 

Athlete Bag – I love the Timberman athlete bag. It had the Timberman logo and it’s a very useful bag. I wasn’t crazy about the IM Coeur d’Alene generic Ironman bag. 

Post Race – We walked back to transition and ate food. Great post-race food: burger and potato salad. I bought a shirt and mug and we headed back to the car. 

Post Race shot of our bikes with Opechee in the background.

The Hurricane that wasn’t – I’m glad the race wasn’t canceled and we got to finish. The storm didn’t hit as hard as anyone thought. 

On Monday, the next day, I wasn’t sore but I was fatigued. It took a day to get back to normal. Now I’m back at it – training hard for Ironman Florida, just 10 weeks away. I’m ready to ramp it up and get faster and finish. 70.3 is the perfect distance. I just love the challenge of 140.6. I have a few races before Florida and it will be good practice to race the shorter distances before the super long one.

Training Update, What are you training for

It’s Monday and here is my training update,

Average Resting Heart Rate: 48
Training Status: Productive
Total Vert last week: 7,953
Total Hours last week: 12:46
Plan for this week: 13 hours: Swim, Bike, Run, Weights, Hike

A decent week but I can do better. 

  • Swim 0
  • Road Bike 1 
  • Mountain Bike 1
  • Road Run 2
  • Trail Run
  • Hike 1 
  • Weights 2 
  • Spin 1 

I read a lot this week and stretched more than ever. Everything is good.

This Week:

  • Swim 2
  • Road Bike 2 
  • Mountain Bike 2
  • Road Run 2
  • Trail Run 1
  • Hike 1 
  • Weights 2 
  • Spin 2

And despite not having a stellar race year to date, I feel like everything is changing for the better, for the second half of the year. Upcoming Race: Timberman 70.3. My first priority for the next three weeks.

Training Update, Ironman Mountain Biking and more

Training Stats:
– Average Resting Heart Rate: 44
– Training Status: Productive
– Total Vert last week: 6,844
– Total Hours last week: 13:53
– Plan for this week: 13 hours: Swim, Bike, Run, Weights, Hike

I’m excited for this week: I have my mountain bike AND my tri bike back from respective shops so I’m ready to ride. The rain will hopefully not hamper this week and I can ride and run trails. 

Bear Brook was so muddy and wet last week and I only did one run on the Concord trails. This week I’m hoping to do more trails and more mountain biking. While I’m 15 weeks out from Ironman Florida (my Mont Tremblant roll over race) I am still planning a few other races beforehand which means mountain biking and trail running and big hikes in the White Mountains. 

Biking this loop was the hardest mountain bike ride in a while. My new goal: get to know this loop and make it easy.

On Saturday I got to ride the Timberman bike course with Kristin, my high school friend. We met up last year while racing the Capital Wells triathlon in Sunapee. Saturday started out a cool 60 with sun. It was fun to catch up and ride the awesome roads around Laconia before heading into work. 

Saturday was a perfect day at Gunstock. Temps in the 70s and gorgeous blue sky. What a day. 

Sunday was a spin class at my new gym (interval work), long run in Concord and an open water swim with Sonja.

Long Pond Swim in Northwood with Sonja. We are in open water swim training mode.

Sonja and I signed up for the AquaBike Course at Capital Wells Sunapee in September. I’ve never done a swim/bike race but do love swimming in Lake Sunapee.

I also found the woman who we saw on Isolation who was doing the Direttissima. Stefanie Bishop and I started following her on Instagram. She is writing up a race report and asked followers for questions. I asked her how she trained for it. Her short answer for now: 

Just what I needed to know.

More time in the gym and time on feet. 

Ironman Coeur d’Alene DNF

It was a big ole DNF on June 27, 2021. We started in the lake too late in the morning and got on the road too late – it was HOT. Brutally Hot. Not a cloud in the sky all day long. 

This is the day before race day, hot but at least there are clouds.

The Swim – the water was perfect. The first 300 yards I struggled to breathe. I couldn’t catch my breath and couldn’t figure out what was wrong. My wetsuit was perfect and the water temperature was perfect, but I couldn’t breathe. Was it anxiety? I’m not sure. Somehow I self-talked my way to getting into a rhythm. My first lap was 50 minutes. The second lap was glorious. I was breathing well, my arms felt strong and I made it to the shore. 

The Bike – the first part of the bike felt really good. I drank so much lake water that I thought I was hydrated pretty well however, even after 10 minutes on the bike I needed to drink. The aid stations were great and I stopped and got off my bike every other one. Towards the end of the first loop I poured ice down my top and bottoms, and water over my head. The highway section of the loop was pure torture. So boring and so hot. The bike course in 2009 was rural roads, just glorious. This course – awful. The climbs were long, and hilly and mind numbing, with cars rushing past you. As I headed back to transition after the first loop it was tough to imagine doing that loop again. There were sections that were so steep on the downhill you weren’t permitted to pass and you couldn’t be in aerobars. 

After the first loop and seeing Bethany and Gabe cheering I got my second wind and knew I could finish the last loop. I felt positive and ready. I stopped at the aid station before the first big climb and realized my legs were burnt to a crisp. I got some sunblock but knew it was too late. I poured water all over me and ice down the shirt. I started to climb up the narrow lane and saw a man on the ground, off his bike moaning in pain. Two intersection workers were trying to help and the man yelled “don’t move me”. It was bad. One man was calling 911 on his phone. I kept biking and then about one minute later I turned around and headed back to transition – I was done. I notified the police who were near the accident before getting back on my bike to be done, and then turned in my chip. 

Bethany and Gabe picked me up from transition to take me back to the hotel to cool down, shower and come back to cheer on Mark. While we were at the hotel Mark was back in transition and needed to be picked up. He DNF’d on the bike too. 

Such a disappointment but we both did the right thing. We would’ve been zombies on the run, and doubt we would’ve made it to the finish in the heat of late afternoon – it just kept getting hotter and hotter. Some said on the highway they had temperature readings of 112. That is just too hot to race. A big congrats to all who made it. What an amazing feat to cross that finish line. 

Traveling post-pandemic was a nightmare on Southwest: cancelled flights on both to and from Spokane. Instead of staying in Spokane for two days (the earliest they could fly me out) Bethany and Gabe offered to drive me to Seattle to fly out from there. I got a one way ticket, non-stop from Seattle to Boston on Alaska Air. The drive west was spectacular: high desert, mountain passes. 

We stopped to have a beer on Snoqualmie Pass and then take in a scenic Seattle view. It was the hottest temperature ever in Seattle and we were beat. We fell asleep shortly and I flew back to Boston the next morning. 

It was a great trip. I love going west. My friends are amazing people. It was a trip of a lifetime of endurance, racing, being out west, spending time with your true friends and seeing the world. 

The world is getting hotter and hotter. We need to take action to change this. It will not be easy but everyone must play a part.