Tuesday, June 27, 2006

My IronMan Hat

Check it out! A good friend of mine at work, Keri, knit me this hat... my "IronMan Hat." It's got all the triathlon distances on it (in case you or I forget).


... and it goes well with all of my existing triathlon gear!
  Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Danville Triple BRICK! Flippin' HOT! 98°F

This past Sunday (6/25/06) was the last big training before IronMan. It was the Triple BRICK. Just to refresh your memory, a "BRICK" is a bike ride followed by a run. As the name implies, we were going to do a BRICK three times.

Each BRICK consisted of a 30 mile bike ride followed by a 50 minute run. The idea behind this training was to give us a long steady effort in less-than-ideal coniditions... which is why Danville was the venue of choice. Luckily for us, it was cooler than forecasted. It was only 98°F instead of the 105°F that I had been dreading all week. It was practically snowing.

If you read my Berryessa report, then you know that I was dehydrated... severely. This weighed heavily in my mind as I prepared for this weekend. Being the last big training before IronMan, this would be my last big test. I wanted to do well.

I started to prepare on Wednesday. I tried to take in more water and salt than normal. This meant putting more salt on my food, and drinking 1-2 quarts of Gatorade. I also eliminated caffeine from my diet, except for what trace amounts are found in my daily chocolate fix.

By Thursday, I had elminated dairy from my diet. Not that I don't like dairy, it's just that it sometimes makes me feel like it slows down my digestion. I needed a fast metabolism for the race.

Friday would be the most important day in terms of nutrition. It typically takes 24 hours for food to completely digest. That means that the food that I was eating on Friday night would be the calories that I would be burning on Sunday. I loaded up on pasta, bread, and rice. I accompanied that with some protein... mainly beans and some meat. I topped off the night with a smoothie that had yogurt (to aid in digestion).

Saturday was all about keeping the calories and water that I had been storing topped off. Breakfast and lunch consisted of 2 meal replacement shakes which gave me a combined total of 1020 calories. I would snack on pretzels if I got hungry. Dinner was half a plate of brown rice, polenta, tomato, and some lean turkey. I finished this meal by 5pm. I topped this off with a smoothie (no yogurt) at 7pm. I was in bed by 9pm.

I weighed myself before I went to bed. On Wednesday I was 156 lb. I was now 163 lb. I attributed most of the weight gain to water, which is exactly what I wanted.

I woke up at 4am on Sunday and ate 4 waffles and 2 tablespoons of maples syrup, which was about 600 calories. I started to take in some water and Gatorade. A quick pee-color check showed that my urine was fairly clear. Good. I set my alarm again for 5:30am and went back to sleep.

By 6:30am I was on the road. I was sipping Gatorade to keep my fluid levels topped off.

My plan for this training was to start slow. I wanted to take the first two BRICKs easy, and then give it all I got on the third BRICK. This was unlike what I had been doing all season. For most of the season, I would start out as fast as I could go, and then see what happens... or like Coach Alex said, "Go till you blow."

My plan for race nutrition was to drink Gatorade Endurance every 15 minutes or as needed. I would take a GU every 45 minutes or as needed (with water). I would take in Endurolytes as needed (if I felt any cramps).

We started at 8am. The first bike was easy. We were all paced at about 15 mph. We were instructed to not pass Coach Wayne. I tried to go slower. The "going slower" part wasn't hard since my bladder was full... it was hard to pedal. It felt like I had a 2-ton weight on my bladder. Luckily, Susan, Peter, and myself found a gas station. My pee was clear... hydration wasn't going to be a problem. The first bike was finished in about 2 hours.

The first run was also easy (it would get more difficult as the day wore on and the temperature would increase). I figured I was running at about 8 minutes/mile. This was too fast for my strategy, so I walked a few times for about 2 minutes each.

On the second bike, we were instructed to not pass Coach Wayne until half way through. I was still trying to go slow. I was the first one to reach Wayne, followed by the "Fast Bike Guys" on the team. I passed Wayne and still tried to remain slow. That thought of going slow quickly left my head as Cesar passed me like I was standing still. Instinctively, I gave chase.

I have to admit, it was fun chasing him. Damn he's fast. I kept up with him for several miles until good sense once again entered my brain, and I slowed down. "This is not part of the race," I would tell myself. "This is the warm up." "The race is the last BRICK." So I slowed down. I was averaging about 16 mph for the two bike portions combined.

The second run was hard. It was now close to 2pm. There was very little wind. I changed to run/walk stategy and ran 4 minutes followed by a 2 minute walk.

Maybe it was my transitions, but by the time the third bike loop started, I was all alone. I figured this would be a good test... there was nobody to pace me... just me.

I got to the water stop and they informed me that I was the first one there. I kept looking back, expecting that somebody was going to catch me eventually.

BTW, the people at the water stop rocked! They had ice-cold towels! That was definitely a boost.

By this time, the Gatorade was tasting gross. Too much sweet for me. On top of that, my calf started to cramp. I gave up on the Gatorade and opted for Endurolytes and water. The cramps went away.

I kept looking back, but I never did see anybody. The next time I saw somebody was on the way back out of the loop when I saw Mo who shouted, "Holy Sh*t, you're on fire!" It felt good!

I made it back to the transition for the last run. This was it. It was all or nothing. I ran 10 minutes, and walked 5 minutes, ran 15, walked 2, ran the rest of the way in. I finished 8 hours 34 minutes... and for the first time, I finished first.

Now finishing first wasn't such a big deal because it was first. Afterall, it was training and not a race. It was such a big deal because the last time I did the Triple Brick, about 2 years and 35 lb. ago, I finished last.

My total run time was 2 hours 30 minutes for about 12-13 miles. My total time in the saddle was 5 hours 32 minutes for 89 miles (16 mph average). That leaves 32 minutes for transitions (about 10 minutes each). I consumed 1400 calories on the bike and run. After a post-race turkey sandwich and a half-gallon of water, I weighed 155 lb.

It was good day. Now I have to turn my attention to Lake Placid. July 23, 2006. Hopefully, I can build upon the things I learned today.

This is a picture that Raf took just after I finished the Triple BRICK. Sorry about the open shirt... it was flippin' hot! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Last long run. One month to IronMan!!!

This past Sunday was the last long run of the training schedule before IronMan. I ran 17.24 miles in 2 hours and 59 minutes along the Contra Costa Canal Trail.

Up until now, I had been worrying about my nutrition during the race. I've tried Perpetuem, HEED, HEED + Protein, and Spiz. They all seem to do well in moderation. For some people, these product work. For me, there is a fine line between doing well and stomach cramps.

So now I'm simplifying. I understand that Gatorade Endurance and GU gels will be on the course in Lake Placid. During my run on Sunday, I used only Gatorade Endurance. You know what? I feel great. Now I have to try GU. The coming weekend I have a long 9 hour workout... that is when I'll try the GU. If it works, then that would make my life so much simpler... it'll be less for me to bring to NY.


Time to DONATE...www.IronMel.com

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Lake Berryessa Training Weekend

We had a training at Lake Berryessa from June 9-11. The training was supposed to simulate some of the race day conditions. We started Saturday with a 2 mile swim. This was followed by a 100 mile bike ride through some really hilly roads and some pretty dry heat (mid-80s). On Sunday we would have a 13.1 mile run.

My swim went very well. I finished the 2 miles in about 57 minutes, which is good for me.
The bike also started well. I just got some new "faster" wheels, and I was anxious to try them out. I felt light, fast, and speedy. I would say for the first 30 miles, I was averaging about 15-17 mph including the hills.

BTW, the hills weren't the only thing hard about the course... there were also stream crossings.

Anyhow, after about 30 miles, I felt like somebody had just pulled the plug on me. I couldn't seem to go any faster than 8 mph. Pretty soon all of the people that I had passed were passing me. I thought I was psyching myself out, but I could not will my body to go faster.

At about mile 40, there was a Shell station, so I decided to go to the bathroom. I had been hydrating as planned (or so I thought), but oddly enough, I really did not have to pee. Usually by this point, if I was well hydrated, I should have to. Urine color should be clear to mildly yellow. Mine was nuclear yellow. 

I got back on the bike and headed for the next water stop at mile 45. The awesome TNT volunteers asked how I was doing, to which I replied that I had been better. I was "Bonking" big time. They iced me down, and gave me fluids. A few coaches came up to me and noted that my skin was completely dry. Coach Alex told me, "I've seen you look much better than this."

Coach Tom suggested that I call it a day. I was fine with that.

I did not do the run the next day either.

So what happened. Well, I can track it all the way back to Wednesday. On our way home back from San Diego (see Rock 'n' Roll report) we stopped to get something to eat. I had some French onion soup. Ever since then, food was going through me... perhaps a bit of food poisoning? My inability to keep food down also inhibited my fluid uptake.

It took me until Monday to finally feel like I was rehydrated.

This is definitely not the scenario I want at IronMan.

I'm a little paranoid about food now. If I'm not cooking my own food, then I definitely want to see the food prepared.

Wish me luck. And if you haven't already, please donate... www.IronMel.com

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Race Report: Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon- San Diego

I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon in San Diego on June 4, 2006. This is the 4th time that I’ve done this race. Of all the venues I have run, this one by far has the best support. My friend Ron also ran the marathon, which made the race even more fun.  Posted by Picasa

Since my IronMan race is so close (July 23, 2006), I promised the coaches that I would not run the entire race. Instead, the intention was to run 13.1 miles, walk 12.1 miles, and then run the last mile (so that I look good for the cameras). I got the approval, just before the race, to run/walk the last 13.1 miles… walking 0.75 miles and running 0.25 miles. I was happy to hear that.

The official results show that I crossed the finish line at 5 hours and 24 minutes. Here are the unofficial results (as shown by my watch).
• Half-marathon: 1 hour 58 minutes
• Marathon: 5 hours

So where did the other 24 minutes go? Read on…

The first half was pretty fun. Ron is pretty impressive. He runs a lot faster now than I remember from college. We played a game that was part cat and mouse and part free-running. We were weaving in and out of race walkers just trying to keep up with each other. Luckily for me, Ron was easy to spot with his school-bus-yellow shirt. I on the other hand, with my purple singlet, blended in with the other Team-In-Training participants running the race.

BTW, Team-In-Training is abbreviated as “TNT.” Ron would periodically yell, “Go T-I-T!” You just had to laugh… especially since I never realized it before.

Around mile 7, I had to really go to the bathroom. That would be Number 2. I waited in line at the porta potty while Ron took my picture. He would yell things like, “Rommel, do you gotta take a dump?!” or “Why don’t you just crap in your pants like that lady at the Boston Marathon?” We waited for 10 minutes. When I finally got in the porta potty, Ron started banging on the porta potty. I swear, he scared it back in, because all that happened was that I passed gas. But I did feel better.

So we kept running. I lost Ron somewhere on the hill around mile 9. All the while, my stomach was hurting, but I figured that could just wait until after the halfway point.

I finally saw Ron again around 13.5 miles. I had already started the walking portion of my race when he caught up to me. I told him to go on since I wasn’t supposed to run flat out. I think he had a good race and finished in under 5 hours.

I would walk briskly for 10 minutes, then run to the next mile marker. This allowed me to average about 13-14 minutes per mile. I found this to be tough for a few reasons.
• Restraint: my body wanted to run
• The weather: it was uncharacteristically cold, so my muscles started to get tight. I had to stop a few times to stretch.

So where did I lose the other 14 minutes?

I lost the other 14 minutes at Mile 14. It was there that I unleashed something unholy in the porta potty.

You may be wondering at this point (or earlier in the report) why am I being so crude… It is so that you can learn from my mistake. Let this lesson become a part of you, and that is this fact. DO NOT eat Cajun Chicken Pasta with a Cream Sauce the night before a race!