Thursday, November 29, 2007

Finisher Video and Random Fears

Finally I have my IM finisher video. For me this is a few seconds of what pure joy feels like. I can still remember the thoughts that went through my head as I ran down the finishers straight. A feeling I hope I will never forget.

So now I start the journey towards my second IM. I am more confident than I was this time last year, though even with that confidence I have new and different fears.

--- Warning Random Ramblings Follow ---
Last year my main concern was could I complete the distance, now I know I can complete the distance. This year however it is more difficult to describe those fears, I still have lots of fears but they are more about letting myself down and not achieving my goal.

Should I train less this year, therefore avoiding burn out? Also this time I know my fitness is close to IM fitness, whereas last year it was not. So I just need to maintain this and then ramp up closer to the big day. But then I fear that my fitness will drop off too much and I will be in a worse condition than I was this year.
As you can see I over think a lot of things, and let me fears get the better of me.

I also have non triathlon fears, that I have to contend with. (Father to be).
What is it going to be like to have children, will I be a good role model, what will they be like, will we cope, is IM and newborns together too much?
Again lots and lots of fears.

--- End Of Random Ramblings ---

Either way I can see next year will be a busy and eventful year.

Monday, November 26, 2007

IM depression

Yes I know everyone (well most people) gets it, but I'm in the bottom of it right now. I'm eating like i'm in peak weeks of IM training, haven't gone near a pool, my bike, let alone my running shoes since I crossed the finish line. As well as wondering how much faster I could have gone, breaking my race down into why I should have gone quicker.

I know I should be doing something but I just am struggling with motivation.

- I have my Florida IM reservation sat by the computer waiting to be payed.
- I have to go see a doctor about my ankle, to make sure there is no lasting damage, and to confirm I am ok to restart heavy training.
- I have to get back into some sort of structured exercise.

I have at least got all my stuff washed and cleaned from florida. (That took far longer than it should have done!)

Half of me is concerned about starting back too early and not giving myself time to rest, and half is just wanting to rest and eat. Maybe thats just laziness though!

Haven't dared weigh myself yet, maybe that will be the kick I need, as well as filling out the florida registration. Still working on my next years race schedule and that is helping a bit with the motivation.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Being from the UK this thanksgiving idea is a new concept to me, but who am I too argue against turkey and a day off work. :-) This is not a celebration I had really heard of before coming to the US, there is nothing like this in the UK.

I've even learnt some American history to get into the spirit of it.

Happy Thanksgiving

Monday, November 19, 2007

Swim Photo from IM Florida

After paying the extortionate price for my 6 official photos from IM Florida (had to get them) I finally received my free aerial swimshot. Its actually quite a nice shot. I was really surprised to see how spread out the swimmers are. When you are in the middle of it, it feels like there are maybe swimmers either side of you for about 5 meters. This however shows that is totally not the case. I had no idea how spreadout everyone was this early.

I can now understand why I was able to get so much clear water. At a guess I was midway between the green buoy line and the outer swimmers.
I was really expecting a rough ride when in fact I found lots of open water. I would have loved to have seen an aerial shot 10 mins later when everyone hit the first turn and how condensed it looked then.
From speaking to other swimmers who were tight on the first turn they said it was so packed it was tough to tread water.

Also to set the record stariaght as some people have accused this years participants of cutting the second loop short by not going round the first buoy, we were told by race director, that on the second loop we would miss the first green buoy and head towards the Ford buoy and aim for the second green buoy. (Pre race they said they would remove the first green buoy, but that did not happen).

Thursday, November 15, 2007

New Scans - 8wks 6 days

2 more scans, mummy and babies are healthy and doing well. First picture shows baby A, and yes I have questioned the tail, and been told it was normal. Saw the heart beats again (174 for both), and movement from both for the first time.
Second baby is slightly harder to see. Baby is orientated with head face down.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What went right? What went wrong?

So now with my first Ironman completed I need to sit back and look at this year and decide what worked and what did not, and decide how my training for next year will go.

As you know I have signed up for Florida next year, so I am in exactly the same place I was this time last year, except I am not a novice anymore.

What did not work well..
I trained almost solidly from 1st Jan through to Nov 3rd, this was 11 months of solid training. I think this is why I felt burnt out and seriously let my training slip during July (6months of training). Because I was unsure how much training to do, I completed 2 cycles of 1/2 IM training and then a full cycle of IM training this led to burn out, and a lack of interest in training I'm sure.
Therefore this year I think I will try some maintenance training until May/June time i.e 1 long swim a week, with some weight training, cycling and running thrown in to maintain my fitness. Then in July follow a full IM training plan.
What needs to be improved..

I only completed one century ride this year (a number of rides 80 miles), and felt I suffered for it on the IM ride, I felt tired from 90miles onwards. My overall time was 6hrs 30, and I was very happy with that, but more cycling might help me feel fresher off the bike, as well as slightly reducing that time. I have a couple of centuries penned in for next year.

What went wrong..
My running at the beginning of the year was great, however it deteriorated a bit through the year, also due to ankle issues, I completed very few long runs. Next year will be all about increasing my time on my feet.

So what worked well..
The amount of swimming, I swam close on 100miles over the 12 months leading into IM FL, and I was rewarded with a 1hr 15min swim time. I did so much swimming last year as I could not swim 100yds freestyle at the beginning of the year.
Next year I think I will reduce my pool swimming and try and get more open water swimming (hate swimming in a pool, especially as the pool in our building is only 12 odd meters long (over 300 lengths to 2.4m). I am not looking to speed my swim time up at all.

The races I completed really helped me focus on IM, I think I will do the same sort of things, but maybe some smaller races this year. I would like to get 1 1/2 before florida next year, and hopefully improve upon my dismal Steelhead showing.
Great Illini 1/2 IM, Twin Lakes, etc

My goal for next year is to not go drastically faster I just want to be able to run a large portion of the marathon. This year was a 6hrs 20 odd marathon. If I could knock an hour of this then I get down in the 13hrs area which would be fantastic (conditions on the day limiting).
And as with this year make sure I enjoy my events.

Race plan for next year is still under discussion with the boss... something about having 2 new borns may conflict with some races??? Any tips from anyone else what worked well for you?

Friday, November 9, 2007

New friends and a big thank you

I gained a whole new group of friends over my journey, as well as getting a ton of support from my friends and family.
Everyone at the MiGroup - Your support and card gave me a real lift over the journey.
Mark and the team at Runners Hi - Without your training support and help I am not sure I would have got where I did.
Meredith - For asking the question the very first time I met you and asked about triathlon, "so do you want to do an Ironman?" And then for being my coach over the years journey.

As well as my new found blogger friends who, helped me out with support and being a friendly face in the crowd.

Marc (Bigun), Di, Roman Mica, Bryan (Taconite Boy), Trimama, Ironmom Jen

And for the two people who got me on this journey via your podcasts and websites.

Iron Kahuna and Iron Wil

And finally my wife Gemma thankyou for all your support.

Oh and one last thing...
I signed up for Florida 2008


At this point I felt really good, got my photos taken and tried to walk around a bit before heading to the massage tent. I probably went there a little quickly, and they took me into the tent about 5 mins after finishing.

I laid down and tried to relax as the massage started, however I had started to get pins and needles all over my body, and I couldn't relax my hands. I was fed broth to try and hydrate me, however I started to get nauseous. A couple of visits from the Doc and I was off to the med tent (not how I wanted this to end). The med team were great, finding Gemma to let her know what was going on and that I was fine.

In the med tent they weighed me and I had lost weight (big shock there!). I was wrapped in multiple blankets, sat in front of a heater and given gatorade. I was offered an IV, however I did not feel I deserved an IV so declined it, I was only thirsty and cold. I have since been told that I would have felt better instantly. I was diagnosed as being hypothermic and de-hydrated. After about 20 mins of sitting in front of the heater I went back for my massage, and caught up with Gemma.

I wanted to wait and see the last hour of an Ironman finish, but I was so tired we headed home (stopping at Burger King for a big greasy burger, fries and milk shake).

And that was my day. It is a day I will never forget.

T2 and a short slog of 26.2 miles

Up to this point I had not managed to pee, and my body decided that upon sitting down in T2 that this would be the best time to go. (Really sorry to anyone who sat in the chair after me!). Glad I was not planning on running in my cycling shorts.
Stripped off, changed and got ready to run. Up to this point I have always considered myself as someone who can run. (3 marathons, couple of half's and some shorter distance). In the weeks leading up to IM I have had ankle troubles, no idea what they are. I had them x-rayed and there was no break evident, however I have since been told a hairline break may not show, there was also a concern it could be plantar facitis. In some of my training runs it has flared up, and I had been unable to walk. So going out of T2 I guess the ankle concern rested on my mind.

I tried running
the first few miles and just couldn't get it going. It wasn't until about mile 6 that I managed a complete mile run. Over the first 13miles I continually battled with my mental side to get myself to run. I probably managed 4 miles of running over the first 13. I felt some cramp and ankle pains so didn't want to risk anything. Think the picture explains exactly how I felt.

I knew when I hit the turn around I would see the finish line, and I wondered how I would react seeing the finish line was so close, however I didn't feel down about having to go back out. A long hard stare at the line and thoughts of "I'm coming back" and "I'll see you in a few hours" went through my mind, and I was able to pick up my special needs bag which contained a good luck card and more messages really helped.

The second half was a continuous walk (managed 15min miles), I think I had got complacent in my mind by this point, I knew I was going to be an Ironman, and my time would be way better than I expected. I got a bit emotional at this point as I started to remind myself that I was only 3 hours from being an Ironman. Sucked it up and continued to walk into the dark. Passing the final turnaround was great, only 6 miles to go. The last few miles were a whirl I was so excited, 11 months of training had all come down to this moment and I wanted to enjoy it. Its funny though I remember enjoying it, but the actually memories of what went through my mind have quickly gone.

The last mile was spent mostly looking over my shoulder and trying to keep distance between myself and the people around me, then into the final straight I'd timed it that no one was in site behind and the guy in front was 100m's ahead. I had the whole chute to myself (I ran this bit) and felt all the cheering directed at me. In my mind I told myself this is what pure joy feels like. Remembered Iron Kahuna's photo finish and knew I wanted something like that, so put on a big smile, raised my arms and listened to Mike Reilly welcoming me in.

Because Gemma had volunteered at the finish line they allowed her to stay on after her shift finished and she was able to meet me at the line and put the medal over my shoulders (great moment). Overall time 14.25.06. (So much for worrying about the cutoffs)

T1 and beyond

After a 7 min transition I was onto the bike, saw Gemma again on the exit of T1 (didn't stop this time).
In my mind at this point I was relieved to be clear of the swim, and know that I was an hour ahead of the swim cutoff time. I was also nicely relaxed on the bike, my heart rate was a nice 125, and in fact never got above 130 for longer than 30 seconds during the whole ride. My goal was to take it easy for the first half and see how I felt.

It was at this point I realised I couldn't be that bad a swimmer, as over the first 20miles I must have been overtaken by 200 odd people. Repeating the mantra in my head.. "crap swimmer" a
s they passed me (probably themselves saying crap biker!)

The florida ride is very flat and I tried to stay down in the aero position for as long as possible, and managed to keep this up for the first 40 odd miles. However at that point I'd had enough of constantly being aero so reguarly switched between the aero and bars position. (tended to switch whenever I was bored).
The countryside around PCB is fairly boring, lots of open spaces and empty lakes followed by little villages, it is fairly flat with quite a few rolling type hills.

Got my special needs around mile 50, read my inspirational message from Gemma, and was relieved that I had not needed to use any innertubes to this point. (Had left the PB&J sandwiches at home so no nice sandwich for me).
To this day I have only changed my inner tubes twice, I knew I could do it (albeit slowly) but was very worried that under race pressure I would take ages.

Just after special needs the topic of conversation between passing riders seemed to be, and "what was in your packed lunch, trade you for a sandwich?"

I continued my ride, knocking back gels and endurolytes like they were going out of fashion, followed by a clif bar every hour (managed that for 3 out of the 6 hours). This seemed to be working fine with no feelings of cramp until about mile 70, when I started to get some GI pains. Breathing in deeply seemed to feel uncomfortable as well. Not sure why this was but I got it into my head it was caused by the gels and I stopped taking on the gels. I'm sure this caused me issues later.

The bike is just endless and you end up just waiting to see the next 10 mile marker, the roads are hit and miss, with some sections really nice, others being really rough. My bike speedo not working for distance really didn't help either. (I have a wireless speedo and it reguarly drops out, from looking at that you would think I cycled 87 miles, rather than the 112).
The bike was pretty un-eventful, no punctures, no crashes, just boredom (please stay like that for future races). From about mile 80 I just wanted it over. Reaching mile 100 was such a nice sight (this then became my longest ride ever), and I flew down the final few miles along the sea front.

Again Gemma was waiting for me at the dismount line and I felt pretty good at this point.
My average speed was 17.21mph, and I was really happy with that.

From speaking with other people they said the wind was alot stronger in the second half, but I can't say I noticed. Maybe I was on a sheltered part of the course or just orientated differently to the wind.

Into T2, with a bike time of 6hrs 30.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

And so it began

The big day was finally here, I had waited 12 months for this, and it was exactly as I had pictured in my perfect ironman dream. Flat seas, low wind and moderate temperatures.
I got down to the race site nice and early and got bodymarked and then proceeded to find a quiet spot on the beach with Gemma to try and relax.
Normally I am more nervous than this for races, however today I felt suprisingly calm.

The ironman start is an amazing thing to see, so many people all trying to get to the first turn as soon as possible. The sea becomes similar to a washing machine, everything getting churned up. In the middle it can get physical, with arms and legs flying. At the first turn you have 2500 competitors all trying to take the shortest path around the first buoy. It gets to the point people are treading water as they are unable to swim forward due to the sheer numbers of people in front.
I was warned of this and made a concerted effort to stay wide, this added a few extra meters to my swim distance, but meant I was able to swim uninteruppted for the duration of the swim. I went wide at every buoy and never really had an issue with conjestion. The swim start at the Chicago triathlon was more conjested than my Ironman swim.
From 12 months ago, being unable to swim freestyle and before the race being concerned about the swim cutoffs the swim itself went very easily. I didn't find myself wanting the swim to end (as I do in the pool) and other than watching out for jelly fish I had a really nice swim.

Came out of the water on the first loop to see the clock showing 45mins, my immediate thought was great, another 45min swim and I am totally on target for a 1hr 30 swim time. At that point I looke
d at my watch and realised the clock was showing the Pro's time (who started 10mins before everyone else, they need the headstart!) so my first loop was 35mins, now my confidence was really up, this was the fastest I had swam 1.2 miles and I felt really fresh.
Second loop was the same as the first, except even less congested, tried to appreciate the last 100 or so meters of the swim as I was really enjoying the swim.

Out of the water at 1hr 15... goal beaten by 15mins and my fastest ever swim and still feeling really good. I was over the moon at this point, my one big fear about missing the swim cutoff had been blown away.

On to the wetsuit strippers, who did a great job of getting my wetsuit off and me on my way to the transition. Saw Gemma on my way to transition and stopped to give her a kiss. (This may have to stop in future races as it's costing me time!)

The swim change tent at this point is just packed with naked people (tents are split mens and womens) changing into their cycling gear. Found myself a small space and changed into my cycle gear and then it was off to get sunscreened up and out on the bike.

8 Weeks Scan

On a completely different topic, mum to be got her 8 weeks scan today.
Saw the heart beats on the twins for the first time... all I can say is wow!

158 bpm for both.... already planning their training! May have to work on reducing their heart rates. A little high if you ask me for doing nothing but lying around!

The Days leading up to IM

And so the journey began a 1000 mile drive from Chicago down to Panama City Beach. Car packed with bike and tons of equipment. I wouldn't say I was nervous, more a mixture of excitement and nerves, with a real want to get it started.

The few days before the Ironman are the worst, lots of athletes out in the sun, cycling and running up and down the main roads all off which made me think I should be out there also. My coaches words kicked in though, "nothing you do in the final days can help, it can only hinder" though it still did make me wonder. Also lots of people who looked way fitter than me all helped increase the nerves.

However on the positive side the sea was calm and the temperature and wind were nice and low. I managed one pre swim and felt ok, a little tired and I attributed this to the journey down to Florida.

Now was just a case of resting and hydrating... I was ready!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

About me and my Journey to Florida IM 07

I moved to the USA with my wife Gemma in April 2005, having been given the opportunity by the company I worked for to come to the USA. Having moved over here I found every opportunity to experiment with the delights of US takeout. This of cause had an effect and I hit 230lbs...

This wasn't me, I have never been the fittest, but getting tired going up stairs was not me. I have completed the London Marathon twice and I knew this had got me fit in the past. So in Dec 05 I signed up and started training for the Chicago Marathon. During that training I started listening to the Get Your Geek On Podcast, this got me interested in Triathlon and through listening to Kahuna and IronWils journey towards Ironman, I decided I would give this ago. A perfect race of 4hrs 15 in Chicag spurred me on, and made me realise if I really wanted something bad enough I could train for it and achieve. So
12 months ago I signed up for Ironman Florida, having never completed a triathlon.

As I started my journey towards Ironman I had a great many fears, primarily around the swim section. The run did not scare me, having completed 3 marathons, and yes the bike is along way, but seemed manageable. (This thought was pre having cycled greater than 50 miles).

The swim however was a different story. Pre signing up for Florida I could'nt swim 100yds freestyle, and there was no way I could breaststroke the whole race and make the cutoff. So there was a big fear over the swim cutoff time. As well as fears over getting swamped by other competitors and the sea being so rough I would struggle to breath.
Swimming has never come easy to me, I get bored easily!
Later on I would learn about Jellyfish and sharks, which would just add to the fear factor of the swim.

And so my journey began, with a number of races picked out, that would build me up to Florida;
Over the year, I have learnt a great many lessons, at both races and through training
In training;
  • I can swim, though was never really sure how fast. Its amazing what a couple of lessons and then a whole lot of swimming can do for you. Over the period of Jan - Nov I swam 98 miles
  • I can bike distances, it gets very boring, but I can do it.
  • Over the period of Jan - Nov I biked 2400 miles
  • Running leads to injuries, or so it seems for me. I don't know whether it was over training or something else but 8 weeks out from the big day in Florida my ankle flared up and caused my run training to get totally de-railed.
  • Over the period of Jan - Nov I ran 430 miles
At the races
  • At Galena, making sure the wetsuit is on properly can stop your shoulders tiring out
  • At twin lakes, an extra few minutes on the bike can make the run so much easier
  • At Steelhead 70.3 it was must take on more salt to avoid crampings
  • At Chicago I learnt about swimming in a pack
I just hoped going into Florida I had learnt all the lessons I needed to learn.

First Post

Intent of my blog
To trace my journey towards Fatherhood, as well as my continued journey to my Second Ironman.
As well as being pushed by TaconiteBoy, Trimama, Bigun, and Di to join the blogging world and see what I am missing.