Thursday, April 7, 2011

April Time Trial

Last night was the TCSD time trial at Fiesta Island.  It's a 3 loop (12 mile) course that is pancake flat and occasionally windy.  I'm supposed to be doing a bike fitness test like this TT once a month in order to determine my Functional Threshold Power (FTP), but I haven't done one in months.  I have had a few days of rest following the Oceanside, CA 70.3 this weekend so I was feeling strong, but had low expectations.
I took a warmup lap, but it only ended up being half a lap because I was running late - I felt OK.  5 minutes of warmup is not enough for a 30 minute hard effort, I'll have to improve on that next month.  My goal was to try to hold 220 Watts, a far cry from the 268 I had done last June, but you have to start somewhere.
I came out of the gate and settled down at about 250 Watts.  I knew this was too much.  Even though I felt good, I had lots of experience that told me I would fall apart before I hit the finish line.  For some reason I ignored my common sense (I do that a lot) and kept my power in the 240+ range for the first loop.  When I started the second loop, I still felt great.  My legs burned a little bit, but my breathing was even and controlled - I felt strong.  I decided to up my goal from 220 to 240, and kept up the pressure on my legs.  Lap 3 was more of the same - legs burning more intensely, but certainly not going to fail - and my breathing was fine.  The result?  248 Watts, 23.1 MPH.  Not bad!  You can check it out yourself here: April 2011 TT.

Here's how the 3 lap TT breaks down:
Lap 110:562491419722.6
Lap 210:402441449423.3
Lap 310:282511439523.6

The whole point of this is to figure out where my FTP is.  TrainingPeaks tells me that the best 20 minutes during this TT was 248 Watts average, so that's my CP20 (Critical Power, 20 minutes).  Since FTP is estimated as 5% less than CP20, I end up with:
FTP = CP20 * 0.95 = 248 * 0.95 = 235 watts.

So that's a start, we'll see where I end up next month.  I don't expect to see much improvement for a while, I have a couple of months of mostly run training for an upcoming marathon.

You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself. - Galileo

Monday, December 6, 2010

Weighing in

I haven't written here since September 14th, wow.  That's not a coincidence, since I haven't been training since then either.  That's three months off, something I've never done.  Additionally, I took about 8 weeks off completely - no swimming, biking, running at all.  That was a bad idea.  I've been slowly working back into things the last few weeks with a few short bike rides - but I'm out of shape.  8 weeks of inactivity coupled with bad diet, and I'm as heavy as I was when I started training in 2006.  Wow.
194 pounds.  That's what the scale said this morning, and it blew me away.  I knew my jeans weren't quite fitting the way they should, but that's pretty heavy.  It feels like yesterday (in fact it was only 11 weeks ago) I was toeing the line in Madison.  I weighed 180 pounds that day, and I was fit.  180 is not the lightest I've been since I began triathlon (165 if you're interested) but that is the highest fitness level I've ever attained.  I had a disappointing race due to nutrition, but I was healthy and strong that morning.  Today I am not.
What the hell happened?  Unfortunately, it's not rocket science, and the blame is all mine.  After my two Ironman season, I decided I needed some time off.  This was a good idea.  I decided to do no structured training for the rest of the year - also a good idea since I hadn't taken an "off season" in 4 years.  But I made some mistakes:

  1. My time off (no exercise) lasted 8 weeks.  It should have been 2-3 weeks, and then some light unstructured workouts
  2. I continued to eat calories as if I had been training.  I had been in Ironman mode for 20 months, and eating 4000+ calories a day was habit.
  3. The quality of my diet degraded badly.  

The first two mistakes I can live with.  Stuff happens.  I was tired.  I needed a break, and I overdid it a bit.  The third mistake, eating poorly, was preventable.  I knew it while it was happening, but I didn't stop it - big mistake.
I wasn't eating cleanly to begin with (I eat out at lunch almost every day), but things got really bad this fall.  My office has a couple of perks, which turn out aren't so perky in the long term.  First, we have unlimited soda fridges.  I've always had a bit of a sweet tooth, and Cherry Coke is a very effective way to fill your bloodstream with sugar.  Second, we have unlimited candy in the office.  For me, it's the Laffy Taffy that gets me.  Or the Nerds.  Or the Jolly Ranchers.  I was drinking 3-6 Cherry Cokes a day, and at least 10 Laffy Taffy's.  Below is the evidence, it's a photo of my garbage can at work as I found it this morning - it's Friday's diet.  You won't see any soda cans since I recycle those - at least not killing the planet is still important to me.

It's embarrassing to post that picture, it makes me angry at myself.  So what am I going to do about it?  One of the many things I've learned from triathlon is that nothing goes as planned, and you've got to constantly adjust your expectations, focus on the things you can control, and forget those you cannot.  I cannot go back and undo the damage I've done to myself, but I can correct the behaviors that lead me here.
Notice I said "correct", and not "over-correct".  I believe that is the mistake most people make when they decide to get fit.  I could go from my slovenly 194 pound frame to my gaunt 170 pound version in the next two months if I needed to - but it would not be a good idea.  To do that I would need to do severe calorie restriction.  This would mean I would be hungry all the time - and it would not be sustainable.  As soon as I "finished" my diet, I'd want to eat more again.  This is the typical Oprah-esque yo-yo diet.  The idea of a "diet" is crazy, because by definition it has a end.  What happens when it's over?  The only way to permanently fix things is to permanently change your behavior.  Not for a week or two, not until you've reached your goal weight, but permanently.  Easy to say, tough to do.
What behaviors am I trying to change (permanently)?  Here they are.  If you catch me violating these, please harass me.

  • Pack my lunch.  I am capable of making good nutritional choices in a grocery store.  I have a much harder time in a restaurant.
  • Stop drinking soda.  Not cut back, but eliminate it.  I have an all-or-nothing personality with soda.  I cannot drink it occasionally - that opens the floodgates.  It has to be cold-turkey for me with soda.
  • Reduce refined sugar considerably.  No more candy at work.  Watch Sugar The Bitter Truth to discover why.  I am going to try to follow the guidelines presented at about 1:09.
  • Get back to working out.  This one is easy.  I'm overweight, a little rusty, and out of the habit - but I really enjoy swimming, biking, and running.

That's it, four simple things.  These are all easy to understand, easy to measure, and will become part of my routine after a few weeks of struggling with them.  Notice that I didn't say anything about eating less, or counting calories etc.  That's because I don't think it's as important for me.  Replacing low quality calories with high quality ones is important, but reducing the amount of calories is less so.  More importantly, calorie restriction is difficult.  I'm going to have a hard enough time with these goals - sugar addiction sucks.  I want to start with the basics first and get them right - I don't want to derail the whole thing by setting too aggressive a goal.  If I need to start counting calories later I will, but not now.  Especially with 8 to 12 hours of training a week (I'll be there again soon!) calorie restriction can be detrimental.
I'll keep you posted on the progress.  Hopefully in the next few months you'll be seeing a lot more of me here on  the blog, and a lot less of me in person!

"It’s not the will to win that matters – everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters." - Bear Bryant

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

IMMOO: Taking the Good with the Bad

I had a fantastic time in Wisconsin this weekend racing in Madison.  Friendly people, beautiful weather, breathtaking landscapes - and lots of cows.  The race itself didn't go as I wanted, or as I predicted.  But I'll get to that in a minute, first I'd like to point out how great Madison was as a host city.  I've done three IM races now (and a LOT of other races) plus spectated a few - and Wisconsin wins hands down as my favorite.  The city of Madison is a college town, it's a little funky and quirky - kind of like Leucadia is wishing they were - and filled with nice people.  The surrounding areas, where most of the bike course lies, are gorgeous and pastoral - especially with the late summer weather.
Now to the race stuff.  First I have to say: I did not do well.  215th in my age group.  Out of 293.  Ouch.

As I said above, the people I met in Wisconsin were very friendly.  However, much like gremlins, apparently they get nasty when they get wet.  I have never had such a rude experience during an IM swim.  The start line was crowded with 2700 athletes, so you expect to get kicked and elbowed and head-butted and generally beat up - you get that at any mass swim start.  This is the only IM I've done where it went beyond that - athletes actively being a-holes.  I had my ankle grabbed and pulled multiple times.  I was punched in the calf (I'm certain it was not an accident - who swims with a closed fist?) which caused me some cramping issues for the next 13 hours.  Someone even put their hand on my shoulder and actually pushed me down under the water.  It's the only swim I've ever been in where I was actually gasping for air, I just couldn't stay calm and get a good breath very often.  Luckily, most of the a-hole swimmers were also slow, and the second loop went much more smoothly - just the usual bunch-ups at the turn buoys.
Predicted time: 1:05 to 1:15
Actual time: 1:09

Nothing much to say here.  IM transitions are hard.  This one required running 1/4 of a mile and up 4 levels of a spiral parking garage ramp.  I'd like to be quicker here, but this is no big deal.
Predicted time: 5-7 minutes
Actual time: 10:35

The bike course is a 17 mile "out" followed by two 39 mile loops around the countryside, then returning the 17 miles "back" to town.  It's breathtaking scenery, glad I was there.  It's also hilly.  Super hilly.  I've never ridden anything like this - it's not crazy mountainous hills (St. George), but there is no respite.  It's undulating the entire way, with one or two sustained climbs in to wear you down a bit more.   However, the climbs are manned by an army of locals cheering you on - it felt like a scene from the Tour de France.  Plus, the city of Verona which we passed through twice has a big festival and huge crowds cheering us on.  For me, this included my parents, grandmother and aunt - who endured just as much as I did to get there and get through the tough day.  It was great to come up the last hill into Verona and see my Dad on watch for me.
My plan was to do 170 Watts average, which would put me somewhere between 6:00-6:30 for the bike course.  I also planned on drinking 20oz of water (one bottle) and eating 300 calories each hour.  Looking at my data now, it's a disaster.
I felt great for the first 17 miles, though I went out a little too fast.  187 Watts, 19.7 MPH.
First Loop I felt good too, 172 Watts 19.4 MPH.  Perfect.
Second Loop, everything fell apart.  I felt tired.  I couldn't speak, I was dehydrated. 148 Watts, 17.1 MPH
Last 17 back to town - I was dead.  120 Watts.
Predicted time: 6:00 to 6:30 (170 Watts)
Actual time: 6:10 (156 Watts)

I hopped off my bike to find, I had sprained my ankle.  How do you sprain an ankle on a bike?  It didn't hurt while riding, maybe I twisted it while dismounting?  I hobbled into the Frank Lloyd-Wright designed transition area (how many of those are there?) and took my time getting ready to run.  I remember saying to my assistant "I have never felt this bad in T2 before".
Predicted time: 5 minutes
Acutal time: 6:48

Calling this section "Run" is a bit of a misnomer.  There wasn't very much running in this marathon.  I had worked so hard on my run, I really wanted to show it off in Madison.  However, nutrition trumps fitness - and without fuel I was left with few options.  I ran the first mile in 8:35, faster than I was supposed to.  My legs felt OK for that first mile (other than the sprained ankle, calf still tight from the swim-punch, and a little bit of crampiness), but I was fighting hard to overcome serious breathing cramps and dizziness.  I gladly walked through the aid station and filled up with four cups of water and IM Perform.  I tried to run the next mile, but it was a struggle, a little bit of walking resulted in a 10:33 mile.  I can live with that - except that I felt like death.  I fought for two more miles (12 and 13 minutes respectively) and literally started seeing stars.  At this point I knew I was dangerously dehydrated, despite having 6 bottles on the bike and at this point 16 cups on the run.  New plan: drink as much as possible, go slow, recover, comeback on the second half of the course.  I started walking, and drinking 4 cups each mile.  Occasionally I would attempt to run, but it wouldn't last long.  This went on all day (and into the night).  I drank 120 ounces of fluid on the bike, and around 300 more on the run over the course of 12 hours - and never had to urinate once.  That is over 3 gallons of water without peeing, /that/ is some serious dehydration.  I actually didn't go until the next morning, after consuming another gallon or so in an attempt to recover.
So this was my slowest run ever.  It was my most painful run ever.  It was the second most sick I've been from dehydration.  My list of "Dehydration Moments" is getting long, and I'm running out of ideas as to the problem.  I don't know what I did wrong this weekend, I drank the same amount I trained with - but it failed spectacularly.  I only performed well for 4 hours, after that it was a long slow decline into misery.

Predicted time: 12:27
Actual time: 13:39
I'm not happy with my time, but I'm pleased with the experience.  I had a great long weekend in Wisconsin with KT and my family, and got to drink in the wonderful atmosphere in Madison.  I'm still a little dizzy, nauseous, dry-mouthed, and headachey two days later, but that will go away eventually.  I need to figure out this hydration thing, I can deal with it - but I don't want to put everyone else through the worry they went through this time anymore.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

IMMOO: What to Expect

I'm trying to piece together in my mind how this next race is going to go.  I'm taking a hiatus (sabbatical?) from the Ironman distance after this one, probably returning in 2012.  That means this one is important - I'll have to live with this result for a long time.  If I go away disappointed with my performance as I did in St. George then it's going to bother me for a long time.  After St. G. I was very frustrated with my race, but I told myself that I would make up for it in Madison.  Well, Madison is here - it's time to put my body where my mouth is.
My Previous Results

I've done IM swims of 1:08 and 1:04 so far.  I expect to be a little bit slower than that this time around, just because I haven't been swimming very much.  I'll be happy with anything under 1:15 which still puts me in the front portion of the main pack.  The swim is unimportant anyway, just need to exit the water without being exhausted or having been kicked in the head too badly.

I really need to work on my IM transitions.  So far both have been about 11 minutes, which might seem appalling.  However, there's a lot to do in T1:
  • Your time starts when you exit the water, so running up the ramp is included
  • You need to get to the wetsuit strippers and have them remove your suit
  • Run through the rows of bags and find yours
  • Run to the changing tent
  • Dry off - it's hard to put on dry clothes on a wet body
  • Change clothes (I always switch to bike shorts for an IM race)
  • Put socks on - I use them, many don't
  • Sunscreen
  • Use the bathroom - I have needed to both times so far
  • Run to the bike racks while wearing bike cleats, and get to T1 exit
So 11 minutes isn't fast, but it's not insane either.  I'm going to attempt to cut this down to 5 -7 minutes this time, though it probably is mostly dependent on whether I need to hit the bathroom or not.

My bike times so far have been 5:41 and 6:50 (19.7MPH and 16.4MPH).   That's a pretty good spread, however the courses were very different.  IMAZ is flat and fast, IMSTG is hilly and at elevation.  A better comparison is power and heart rate.  At IMAZ I was at 163 Watts and 137 bpm while at St. George it was 141 Watts and 123 bpm.  This is actually pretty much in line with expectations since I deliberately went easier at St.G to save my legs for the run.
So what will I do in Madison?  I'm targeting 170 Watts, though I don't know what time that will result in.  I'd like it to be around 6 hours, but my guess is that it's going to be about 6:30.

T2 is pretty unimportant, but it took me 9 minutes and 6 minutes in my previous races.  That seems too long, even with another full wardrobe change and fresh sunscreen.  I'll try to get this down in the 5 minute range.

I've worked on my run a lot this year.  I've PR'd twice at the half-marathon distance, and had my best ever 70.3 run as well.  My two IM times have been less than stellar: 5:19 and 6:16.  Ouch.  I'm running well right now and assuming there's no hydration/nutrition issues I think 4:30 is doable.  Coach thinks 4:00 is doable, but he's out of his mind.  4:20 would be great, since that is 10 minute/mile average.

So it adds up like this:
1:15 Swim
0:07 T1
6:30 Bike
0:05 T2
4:30 Run

That amounts to a 12:27 finish time, two minutes faster than my previous best.  I would love to get that under 12 hours, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen.  Maybe I can still shave a few minutes off of that swim time.  And the bike...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Ironman by the Numbers

I'm two weeks away from IM number two for the year, my third overall.  I feel great, except for a back issue that might slow me down on the bike.  I wanted to break down some of my numbers over the last few years, the result is the eye chart below.
Stats from my three Ironman races

What is all that?  It's graphs of my weekly swim (green), bike (blue), run (red) and TSS (orange) for the six months leading up to each of the my Ironman races.  There's all kinds of cool stuff to pull out of this data, but I'll just mention a few of my thoughts on it.
  • The swim mileage has tapered off considerably in each race.  This is a product of not being in a regular masters class.
  • The swim mileage seems way too low!  Less than 3 miles a week doesn't even seem possible, since I swim masters twice (about 1.5 miles each) plus one open water swim (1 to 2 miles) each week.  Maybe I'm skipping too much?!
  • My bike miles were down considerably from IMAZ to IMSTG, dropping from 92 to 75 miles per week.  This is partly because I was focusing on the run during that time, partly because this was winter, and partly because I just wasn't into biking for a while.  Luckily, it's recovered a bit to 88 miles/week for IMWI.
  • My run miles are up considerably, an increase of 40% from 13.3 to 18.7 miles per week.
  • During my IMAZ prep, I ran more than 20 miles six times.  For IMWI I've done it 11 times.
  • During my IMAZ prep, I ran more than 30 miles zero times.  For IMWI I've done it 3 times.
The Training Stress Scores (TSS) are tough to judge.  My IMAZ TSS is low because I didn't have a watch that TrainingPeaks worked well with, so most of my run TSS were under-counted.  My IMSTG and IMWI could be compared directly (increase of 9.6%), but that's deceptive too.  My IMWI numbers include my four week recovery after St. George, so they're a little lower than they would ordinarily be.

So what does all this mean?  I'm  ready to race!  I have a huge aerobic base after 3 season of Ironman training.  I set a half marathon PR at Carlsbad in January, and broke it at AFC in August.  I had my best IM70.3 run in Oceanside this year.  My biking has been a little suspect this season, but my numbers look good during my power tests - so I'm confident that I'll do fine if I can drink enough water during the race.
Two more weeks to keep sharp, then it's off to see what I can do on the plains of Wisconsin.  I can't wait!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Not Dead Yet

Finish of the Carlsbad Sprint Triathlon
I know, I haven't been around lately.  I don't call, I don't write... mostly, I don't write.  Nothing nefarious afoot, I've just been busy.  I bought a house in May (two days after finishing IM St. George) and although it wasn't listed in the paperwork it came bundled with a lot of chores.  I've spent my free time just trying to keep up with the mowing, laundry, and dishes.  I haven't even made it to the big stuff like mounting the television, fixing the water line to the fridge and installing the air conditioner (I'm assuming San Diego will have a summer at some point in 2010).  It doesn't sound like a lot of work for home maintenance, but I'm trying to squeeze it between 40 hours of work, and 20 hours of triathlon training.  It's hectic, but it's workable - and things will be better this fall once the Ironman training subsides.
IM Wisconsin is less than six weeks away, meaning I have about 4 more weeks of tough training.  I just completed a badly needed rest week, today was the first day back after a ludicrously easy rest week schedule, which I still struggled with.  This morning it was 16 miles running, my longest run of the year (since I technically stopped "running" at mile 13 in St. George).  It went.... OK.  I struggled to hit my pace, but finished the run without being too beat up, and ready to tackle the remaining 16 hours of training for this week.
What has surprised me so far in my IMWI preparation is that I'm not burned out.  During the training for both of my previous IM races (and one I trained for and didn't compete in), at some point near the end I just got completely fed up.  I wanted it to be over.  I wanted to just do the race and go home (though I really didn't even want to do the race).  I wanted to go home after work and watch television.  I wanted to put more attention on my career, on my personal life, on myself.  I was doing one of the most selfish things I had ever done (train for endurance sports) and all I wanted was time to myself.  Burnout is not logical, it just sucks for no reason.
Somehow I have avoided that this time around.  All I want to do right now is train just a little bit better, and then toe the line in Wisconsin ready to kill it.  I think having a couple of disappointing performances earlier in the year helped to focus me on what I'm trying to do.
IMWI will be my last Ironman for a little while - I'm taking 2011 off from that distance.  But the plan is not retirement... it's reloading.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dance with the one that brought you

Ironman St. George 2010 is in the books, but my feelings on it are still up for debate.  As advertised it was a hard race and I (like most everyone) struggled.  In the end I finished uninjured, KT was there to console me afterward, and I had a lot of fun - and I am thankful for that.  This is more of a race recap, I'll dig into analysis in a later post where I'll dissect the data from the race.
I arrived in Utah on Wednesday, and it was windy.  Crazy windy, like 25MPH sustained with 50MPH gusts.  There would be no way to hold a bike race in that kind of weather, which had me worried.  Thursday Rachel and I headed to Sand Hollow for a practice swim.  I put on my brand new DeSoto T1 wetsuit (who says you can't swim in a brand new suit on race day) which replaced my old T1 that had started leaking water into the left arm.  We pansied around ankle deep, afraid to dive into the cold water (we were told it was 57 degrees).  Eventually I went in, and it was cold - real cold.  I quickly developed an ice-cream headache, which I had never experienced in the water - despite having done some cold water swimming previously.  I swam about half a mile (13 minutes) before hitting the shore again.  Trying to get out of the water was disorienting.  I was dizzy, and my eyes wouldn't focus.  I thought it was my contacts acting up, but turns out your brain does crazy stuff when you stick it in ice water.  I hobbled across the parking lot slowly, changed clothes, then turned on the car's heater.  Wow, that felt good.  I drove straight to the expo at Ironman Village and started shopping for a neoprene cap, which I unfortunately never found.
The night before the race was uneventful.  KT and I made spaghetti for dinner, and made it to bed early since the alarm was set for 3:45AM.  On race morning I got dressed, grabbed my bag and peanut butter bagel, and hopped on the bus. 
It was cold at Sand Hollow, but by a miracle of the racing gods the wind had died down and would not be a factor.  After pumping up my tires and putting my Accelerade bottles on the bike, I hid in the dressing tent for warmth.  I kept my jacket and leg warmers on, and just tried to conserve body heat - I knew the lake was going to suck it right back out of me.  There was nothing to do in the tent except stare at the other athletes.  Nobody was talking, and to be honest it was kind of depressing.  Half the guys looked like the wide-eyed soldiers about to land at Normandy in the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, and the other half seemed calm and collected - almost enjoying spectating the first timers.  Meanwhile, I was visualizing my race - though I didn't make it very far.  In my head I imagined getting out of the water and stripping off my goggles, at which point it occurred to me that I didn't bring my goggles!  A quick check of my bag confirmed it, and I had my first mini-panic attack of the week.  I asked around a bit, and eventually two different athletes offered to loan me a pair.  Thank you to racers #808 and #72, I tried to return the goggles to your bags at checkout but the officials there wouldn't allow it.  One of the pairs I was loaned was a set of black tinted Aquasphere Kaiman goggles.   This is exactly what I had planned on swimming in anyway!  What a miracle.  A quick adjustment, and they fit like they were molded for my face.  With my pre-race drama completed, I wetsuited up and got in the queue for the beach.
On the way to the water I ran into my friend Alan, who was also racing.  We wished each other well then disappeared into the crowd.  I also was flagged down by Pat who I hadn't seen in quite a while.  Thanks for the encouragement.  At 6:45 the pro field went off, marked by the firing of the start canon.  I wasn't ready for the bang, and apparently was standing near the thing - and it scared the bejeesus out of me.  A few minutes later they told us we were clear to enter the water, which I did.  However, the announcer told us that we didn't have to get in - and in fact said that you could stand on the shore if you wanted.  What?!  This beach is about 15 feet wide, and there are 2000 athletes.  There is no orderly way for 2000 people to get through a 15 foot gap to start a race.  At the other IM races I've done and witnessed, they force you into the water 10 minutes ahead of time, because it takes that long to get everyone in.  I'm guessing they let it go due to the cold, but who knows.  For me, I was relieved.  The water was not nearly as biting cold as I remember from my practice swim.  It was cold for sure, but I treaded water vigorously to warm myself up, and felt fine even when I got my head wet.  I was secretly pretending that the water had actually warmed up, and not that it felt better due to the hundreds of bladders that had recently emptied into it.  The crazy thing about everyone being on the shore still was that it wasn't crowded.  I was near the front, yet it still didn't even feel like a large wave start - much less a huge mass start.  I even spotted my friend Ryan and wished him well - how do you recognize someone when you only see them from the neck up, and they're wearing a swimming cap and goggles just like every other person in the water?  With about a minute before the canon, the other racers began streaming in, and then the race was on!
Like my previous IM swim start, I began swimming "heads up" style.  This is slow, but it protects my face from being kicked until the crowd thins out.  After a few hundred meters of being pummeled, things cleared up a bit.  By the time I made it to the first turn, the crowd had thinned considerably - though I kept getting run into, punched, pushed, ankle-grabbed, and even had someone deliberately blocking me!  Blocking.  In an Ironman swim.  In a lake.  What a jerk.  I thought he was just a bad swimmer, swerving because the sun was in our eyes.  But after the fifth time he cut directly into my path forcing me to slow - it occurred to me he was actually trying to stop me from passing.  Why?  During our little encounter I'm sure 20 people passed us - it's a big lake.  Eventually I windmilled over his back and got free and was back on my way.  My take was that it was a very rude set of swimmers out there.  We all know we're going to run into each other - if you don't get kicked in the face and/or groin during an IM swim then you're not doing it right, but I had way too many incidents that were not accidental.  The other problem I had with the swim was the swim cap colors: orange for men, yellow for women.  Nice, bright colors which are easy to spot in the water.  But the buoys marking the course had also been picked to be bright and easy to spot in the water - they were yellow and orange.  I kept spotting and looking for an orange buoy - but I often couldn't pick it out from the sea of orange swim caps in front of me.  It didn't help that many people in the swim cheated, and swam to the left of the buoys!  About half way through another problem came up, my wetsuit started leaking.  I had water in my left arm - the same problem I had with my old wetsuit!  I don't know why this is happening to me, but somehow water is leaking into the neck of my suit - even in my brand new T1!   Other than making me cold, this slowed me down since water is pretty heavy and you don't want to drag it along with you.  Add to all of this that the reservoir is primarily used for water skiing, which made it taste and smell like diesel fuel, and the swim was not something I want to do again.
I exited the water, my watch said 1 hour, 4 minutes which is actually a good swim.  It was good to put all the BS behind me, and move on to the next stage without having lost any time.  The wetsuit strippers ripped away my rubber skin, and I was off to the changing tent.  I wasn't cold at all, so I decided not to wear my jacket.  I did take my time in T1, used a towel to dry off, changed into biking shorts, and I even wore socks.  I did make a mistake while dressing though - I put my race number on too early, before I pulled up my bib shorts.  The race number got stuck underneath, though I didn't know it at the time.  Later in the day on the bike I tried to get it out, but ended up ripping it - so my race number never really was displayed properly.  After over 10 minutes, I was dry, dressed and out on the bike course.
I settled in, the road out of Sand Hollow was newly paved and buttery smooth.  I loved it.  But, I kept my wattage low and watched as people flew past me.  Stick to the race plan.  At mile 10 I spotted my friend Beth standing on the side of the road with a wheel in her hand.  This was exactly what happened to Mary at IMAZ 2008, and I rode right past her without offering help - I feel horrible about it still.  So I asked Beth if I could help, but her tubular tire had ripped - and she needed a new one, which I didn't have.  So I continued on, hoping that this setback wouldn't end her day.  Beth is crazyfast(TM) and I wasn't sure if it was worth it for her to continue if she lost a lot of time.
By mile 20 I felt tired.  WTF?!  Mile 20?  I was going easy.  Or more specifically, I was riding at a wattage that should have been easy - but for some reason was not.  I trekked on.  At mile 40 my coach Brendan passed me.  We exchanged a quick update and some advice, but honestly I was just glad to see him.  But surprised.  Brendan is stupidfast(TM) and should have been WAY in front of me by now.  I expected to beat him out of the water by a few minutes, but after my 10+ minute transition I assumed he had leapfrogged me there.  All he said at the time was "I'm having a rough day also", but later I found out he was downplaying it quite a bit.  There were a number of cattle grates which had been covered with wood so we wouldn't fall in.  However, they used 3/4" plywood, and hitting it direct could easy pinch-flat a tire.  So I opted to bunny hop them.  This worked out fine until I dropped a gatorade bottle on one of them.  It was at mile 40, only 6 miles from an aid station - so it wasn't catastrophic, but it did throw off my hydration plan a little.
I made it up the two big climbs without issue, though I certainly wasn't looking forward to doing them again on the next loop.  At the bottom of "The Wall" that leads up to Veyo there were 4 men who looked like the "Git'r Done" guy cheering us on.  I think their cheering was genuine and not intended to be mocking, but it cracked me up.  We had just started up the climb (maybe a mile of 12% grade?), and so we were downshifting and going pretty slow.  I heard them yell things like:
"Is that all you got?"
"You didn't come all the way to Utah to ride like that, did you?"
"Go, go, go!!!"
"Get your ass up that hill!"

In the town of Veyo we made the right turn, and there were some people on bikes cheering us on.  I recognized one of them as being Coach KP whom I had met in November during the training camp, so I yelled hi at him.  I'm certain he had no idea who I was!  More importantly the right turn put us with a tailwind for the next 18 miles!  I (and everyone else) flew through this section of the course.  It took me 30 minutes to cover 14 miles, which is 27MPH!  It was fun, especially in the spots where we hit 45MPH!  I  had never gone that fast in a race before, and the adrenaline revitalized me.  I felt good for an hour or so.
But then I nearly got bike pee'd on, and my back started hurting causing me to sit up more.  I really struggled to hit my wattage, and eventually I couldn't.  I dropped another water bottle on the same cattle grate as the first loop.  Additionally, the crazy fast stretch turned out to be much less windy the second time around - so no free ride back into town.
T2 was uneventful, my garmin 310xt picked up satellites before I made it out of the tent and so I was off and running pretty quickly.  I walked the first aid station and got some gatorade down, then trucked off up Diagonal St.  I felt OK, but when I saw the short steep climb on the small out-and-back, I decided to walk it as well.  Then it was running again until the huge 8% climb on Red Hills Pkwy, which again I walked.  By this time I was 4 miles in, and only 39 minutes had elapsed.  Even with the long sustained uphill walks, I was managing 10min/mile - I was ecstatic!  I flew down the other side of the hill  ("flew" being a relative term, 8:20 pace), through the park and to the turnaround.  I continued to walk the steeper hills and aid stations, picking up a gatorade at each one.  By the time I made it to mile 12 I was tired, but chugging along.  I spotted KT in the crowd and came over to say Hi.  I told her "I think I'm going to die", but I was joking - probably shouldn't have tempted fate.  Went down to the turnaround with a first half marathon time of about 2:10, which I was stoked about.  I also spotted Beth's husband James, who confirmed for me that Beth hadn't dropped out - and that she was about to run me down!  She did so rather quickly, she had a fantastic race as far as I can tell.  Anyway, just after the turnaround my stomach started acting funny.  I stopped at the toilets and cleared things up a bit :)  It was nice to just sit for a few minutes.  However, when I got back on course I felt like vomiting.  So I walked a bit, then tried again.  Anything other than a walk resulted in extreme nausea.  I feared I had taken in too much gatorade on the run, I had downed 13 cups by now.  So I walked, and made it to the short steep hill on the out-and-back, which made me dizzy.  Uh-oh, dizzy wile walking?  That's bad.  I tried to run a couple of more times, but literally didn't make it more than a few steps before I had to go back to walking.  I eventually conceded that I was done racing, and that the only way I would complete the race was to walk the remainder.  It took me 4 hours to walk the second half of the marathon, giving me a time of over 6 hours for the run.
During those four hours, I was not a pleasant person.  I was mad at myself, mad at the world, bitching and moaning to anyone unlucky enough to be near me.  I trodded on, with the bottoms of my feet aching and some new (and quite extreme) knee pain kicking in.  I watched the sun go down and lamented my inability to finish in the daylight.  I watched my friends go by, and instead of cheering them on I whined about my shitty condition.  I apologize to all of you, I would go back and handle it differently if I could.  During the walk I met up with another racer who was in worse shape than me, and we walked and talked.  I noticed my voice was a little weak, but figured it was just a little dry.
Eventually we made it to mile 25.5, and my new friend and I shuffled the last half mile together.  I honestly don't even know my finish time, and I don't want to look it up.  I know it was around 14:30, but it's unimportant to me.  My "catcher" put a blanket around me, shuttled me to the pictures, then tried to get me into medical.  I assured him I was fine, but he was persistent.  I eventually got away from him, but didn't understand why he was so insistent on me getting to medical.  I found out when I got home - my face was absolutely coated with white salt.  Not good.
From the days that followed the race it became clear that I was really dehydrated, but I don't know how or why.  I drank a lot out there.  140oz of fluid during the bike, and 13 cups of gatorade before I hit the wall.  But it wasn't enough - apparently it wasn't even close.  Was it the altitude?  Dry air?  Do I just need more than 20oz per hour?  Did I not get enough salt?
After the race I quickly found KT, who was confused, then pissed, then relieved, then frustrated with me.  I was just glad to see her.  It had been a long day, and it meant the world to me that she was there to cheer me on.  Plus, she's an excellent sherpa :)
I don't have any idea how my hydration on these races is still so messed, but I'm determined to figure it out before my next Ironman.  I think I could have run a 4:40 marathon had hydration not put me into a fit of nauseous dizziness.  I was feeling a little burned out on Ironman in the weeks leading up to this race - but having an unsatisfying result has fixed that problem.  Which way to Wisconsin?